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The Hero in All of Us

Heroes walk among us, and thankfully so. Not all of them wear a uniform, either—many are just regular people who have gotten trained in first aid and CPR/AED.

Although many people don’t think they will get the chance to use their training, more than a quarter of respondents in a Red Cross survey said they have been in a situation where someone may have needed CPR.

Julia Bylow, Karl Knutsen and Mike James know this situation firsthand. All three work at East Union High School in Manteca, Calif., and one day they worked together to save another colleague, Sue Bloodgood.

Bloodgood was in cardiac arrest, and the trio kept her alive with CPR until paramedics arrived.Bylow, Knutsen and James were all honored by the American Red Cross recently for their lifesaving actions. The three received the Certificate of Merit, which is signed by the President of the United States and is the highest honor the Red Cross bestows.

As Knutsen received his award, he encouraged others to get trained. "It's a technique, a tool. You give up three to four hours (in training time). We need to help (the Red Cross) because they help us," he said.

Not Yet a Teenager, Already a Lifesaver Kiara Barry also numbers among those who have used their training to save a life. In the 10-year-old’s case, it was Emily Barry—her mother—who needed help.

One evening while she was preparing dinner, Emily Barry began to choke on some candy. After gesturing to her younger daughter, Isabelle, that she was choking, the little girl ran to get Kiara.

"She didn't question me ... she just came right up and gave me the Heimlich ... she knew absolutely what to do and I am proud of her," said Emily Barry of Kiara's quick reaction.

Kiara learned this technique, along with other basic first aid and CPR skills, through a class based on the Red Cross GuardStart program. GuardStart is a pre-lifeguarding (junior lifeguarding) program for youth, and teaches them about injury prevention, emergency response, physical fitness, professionalism and leadership.

To get trained in first aid and CPR/AED, or to learn about other courses the Red Cross offers, go to and find your local chapter.

You can also visit the Red Cross store to check out products like First Aid and CPR for Everyone: An Introduction to Basic Lifesaving Skills.