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Horrible training ... lives at risk

On Saturday December 3 2016 I attended a training program at the Red Cross Canada offices in Barrie ON to renew my Emergency First Aid CPR certificate.

I had initially contacted the Canadian Red Cross office in Barrie through their website. The Red Cross recommends a company called Adrenaline Rush and lists that organization on the Red Cross website with the same address as Red Cross. Course instructor was Lorne McArthur of Adrenaline Rush.

The training was absolutely horrendous. By far the worst training program I have ever attended.

The course material was sub-standard and, in addition to being argumentative, the instructor horribly prepared to lead the class. The information in-class conflicted with the Red Cross First Aid manual and handouts. Some information was completely incorrect, one of the stroke identification techniques taught is discussed on a scam website and identified as possibly correct but inappropriate for first aid responders (since it involves a judgement call) and, in at least one case, the instructor taught the students to NOT provide assistance in helping with taking nitroglycerin pills.

I walked out of the training at the lunch break and did not return. Some of the issues with the training:

1. During the section discussing heart attacks, the instructor emphasized helping someone take Bayer aspirin. His Power Point presentation identified this as ASA. He emphasized several times it HAD to be Bayer and spelled it out "B-A-Y-E-R" and used his hand to assist with the description that this is the one with the cross on it. He then tried to illustrate that it had to be Bayer and not some other type such as Advil. To make his point, he used a comparison between Bayer aspirin and others, asking the students in the class what the difference was. When no one volunteered an answer, he said that the other brands were "coated" and would not work instantly like Bayer (again spelling it out and using his hand to do a cross and specifying it was the one with the cross on it. I attempted to correct him on this ... to point out that Bayer, with the cross, also make a coated aspirin, and trying to correct him that it wasn't the coating that was the issue ... the issue is that ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) is known to be beneficial at the onset of a heart attack. He also incorrectly recommended TWO aspirins. The correct dosage when a heart attack is suspected is ONE uncoated regular aspirin or TWO 81 Mg aspiring. There are also other brands than Bayer, including generic versions from department stores that work as well as brand names.

2. During the section discussing TIA/strokes, the instructor ignored the Red Cross information (http://www.redcross.ca/training-and-certification/first-aid-tips-and-resources/first-aid-tips/signs–-symptoms-of-a-stroke) and focused on his own Power Point definition. He also included a "new" technique that he personally recommended and used with his own mother – that of asking for the individual to stick out their tongue. While it wasn't clear what the first aid responder was looking for, this technique is the subject of a Snopes "scam" discussion that while this may have practical benefits, a first aid responder would be required to make a judgement call on the appearance and slant/bend of the tongue rendering this to "questionable" status. The FAST technique is accepted and promoted not only by the Red Cross, but by the http://www.heartandstroke.ca/stroke/signs-of-stroke.

3. During the section discussing heart attacks, the instructor stated quite clearly that the only medication that he strong recommended first aid responders should not help someone take is nitroglycerin. He made the point that nitro is used to expand blood vessels with an effective duration of 15 to 20 minutes. He said that nitro comes in different forms: patch, pill, liquid, and spray. He was emphatic that first aid responders should give the nitro to the person having the heart attack to administer themselves – specifically that the responder should NOT handle the nitro outside of the container. His reason was that the nitro would expand the blood vessels of the responder and 'blow their brains out'. This is contrary to Red Cross guidelines – especially since the early part of the training is to put on surgical/examination gloves. If the gloves are on, handling nitro pills is a non-issue. With or without gloves, handling nitro spray is a non-issue.

There are other examples where the instructor's training is contrary and inconsistent with Red Cross materials – and other accepted and promoted first aid emergency responder practices. His training style is also questionable, using a "Family Feud" question style prior to having done the instruction. His training style was to emphasize his own personality and need to be "right" all the time. For example, at one point he asked how many walls were in the room. When someone answered four, he immediately said "wrong" and then questioned again. Finally, he stated the correct answer: four walls, one ceiling, one floor and then proceeded to talk about the "four walls" repeatedly. He made the point of checking the environment, and devalued the student. I was also absolutely horrified with his recommendation that first aid responders "rip out" piercings during the AED discussion ... completely contradicts Red Cross manuals (http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m48840210_CPRO_Handbook.pdf, page 19).

Up to September 1998, Red Cross Canada was responsible for blood services in Canada. Largely due to a lack of standards, they lost that role. I believe something similar is happening with their training programs.

I have made a report of this directly to Red Cross and asked to be a part of their defined and documented problem resolution process. I have been contacted by several people from Red Cross who made appointments to meet (by phone) to discuss this, and they never followed through. There clearly is no auditing of training taking place, and the value of a certificate endorsed by Red Cross to their standards just isn't of any value any more. They ignored obvious issues when they managed the blood collection process in Canada and are clearly ignoring the obvious when it comes to training First Aid responders. In both cases, lives are at stake.

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