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By Michael Edwards
MA, CHES, RHEd, CNC
It must have been either 1955 or 1956, if I properly recollect through the years. I can still vaguely see the policeman at the front of the class, completing his talk about safety. I donated my allowance at the time, which was probably 25 cents, to the American Red Cross. When he was finished, we were presented with a tiny white tin badge announcing to the world that we’d completed our safety training. Our teacher helped us clip them on our shirts. I remember being so proud of that badge that I walked the block around my house for several days trying to find an old lady to help across the street.
Thirty years later, I received my EMT Certificate, and two years after that, my Master’s degree in Health Education. I was proud of those, too. After graduation, I worked for the American Red Cross in Greenville, N.C. and taught countless programs in CPR, Safety and First Aid. No telling how many lives I may have saved, helping people learn about the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes and what to do in emergencies. I threw in quit a bit about prevention, too, which we hear way too little about these days. We had an episode years ago while camping at Cedar Key, where we had to summon an ambulance all the way from Gainesville. At the time, we thought one of our older friends was having a heart attack. Recognition of those early signs may have saved his life.
Today, that’s all behind me, but a number of my friends have moved on to the great campground in the sky. Most, from preventable “lifestyle” diseases due to incredibly poor eating habits, lack of physical activity and smoking. It takes more than “luck” these days to be healthy. Health is easy when you have it, but once it’s lost, it’s a hard battle to get it back – some people never do, and end up losing their life savings to disease management treatments or being prescribed hazardous, expensive drugs for the rest of their lives.
On my last visit to CK, I was excited to see that Chief Robert Robinson of the Fire Department will soon be providing CPR/AED courses to residents.
You’re going to have your eyes opened to how easy it is to help out in emergency situations, and how self-actuating this new knowledge can be. I can’t stress enough the importance of these classes and hope everyone at Cedar Key will be included. I bet you’ll be as proud as I was with my first badge so many years ago. This could be a stepping stone to a higher state of personal health and wellness. The life they save could be your own…or mine!