Monday, December 17, 2012

Incomprehensible

There are some events or situations that no one can really explain why they happen.  The senseless shooting in Newtown, CT is one of them.

I'm having a really hard time comprehending what happened.  I'm struggling with it because I have children.  These beautiful children in this picture are the same ages as my son and youngest daughter.  I have yet to explain to them what happened and I know I need to do so soon as it will most likely be discussed in their school.  I am extremely thankful that we had a snow day today so I have more time to think on how to approach this.  Although I have been out teaching for most of the day so I have to figure out a way to ease into this conversation.

How do I explain this to them when I still cannot understand it myself?

A good friend is a parent educator.  She has posted some brief advice on her Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/ProactiveParentingTips.  Another good friend shared this link:  http://www.responsiveclassroom.org/blog/no-ordinary-monday

I am trying my best to keep a normal routine and presence at home.  I feel good that I am doing that for my children, but yet I just want to break from that and hug them non-stop.  Which of course will make them wonder and ask why I'm doing that.  I keep thinking... how would I react and respond to hearing of a shooting at one of the schools my children attend?  I cannot imagine the level of panic, desperation, anguish, fear and grief that these families have gone and are still going through.  I cannot imagine both the levels of joy and guilt that the families of the children who were not physically injured must also be going through. I write physically injured as the emotional and mental injuries are also most likely more than I can bear to imagine at this point and will be ongoing.  How can we return so quickly to our holiday celebrations when there is so much sadness surrounding us?


Since I started this post I have received a reassuring email from our school principal.  They will not be holding classroom discussions about this.  The children will be able to discuss the issue one on one with school staff as questions arise, but not in a group setting. This is has really set my mind at ease.  Not that this lets me off the hook, because I know my kids will hear about this at school.  Not intentionally in supervised classroom discussions, but informally on the playground and in the building.  But it gives me more time to be able to pull myself together.  Many years ago I had to discuss a tragic accident at a scout meeting - I should never have offered to because I did not realize I was not emotionally prepared to do so.  I think my sobbing in front of a group of kids did not help the situation and I don't want to upset my children more than needed.  I am thankful for the efforts and actions of the school administrators, teachers and staff at the 3 schools my children attend to be prepared for the questions, actions and nervous parents in this upcoming week of school. 

I am not overly religious, but at Mass this past Sunday we learned to be thankful for what we have and not to be looking for the next thing that could have.  I have been thinking about this almost non-stop.   I am thankful for my children and family, for good friends and the safety will presently enjoy.  I am thankful now that my children will be focusing on upcoming holiday celebrations at school and home.   I am thankful that I will be visiting with family I do not see often, and that it will be to celebrate a holiday and not a sad or tragic event.  I am thankful that we are healthy and safe, and in a way I'm thankful that I can't fully comprehend the level of despair that this senseless tragedy has brought because my inability to fully absorb it is helping me to remain calm and reassuring for my children.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Positive lesson from a horrible experience

Last month my Visa debit card was hacked.

It was a week of ... oh I so want to type the word but I don't swear, at least not usually.  But you can insert the word that you think is coming out of my mouth.

I won't go into details, but all is now resolved and I have my money back.  But that is not the horrible part of the whole situation.

The horrible part was the lack of communication with my banking institution.  There was only one person everyone said I had to speak to, the person who pretty much never returned any of the messages I left (many of which were how to fill out their forms!).  I would have to call and complain to customer service to get a return call.  After 2 days of leaving messages I finally reached this person on day 3 - to find out that my fraud report hadn't even been looked at.  I was stressed, and freaking out.  This began at 8am on Monday and by Friday I had reached my breaking point.  I was so frustrated I thought I would cry.  Long story short - I have switched financial institutions.

But out of a horrible week I realized something really important.  Most of my frustration was because they did not return any of my messages - or when I called no one could help me.  It got me thinking about the calls I receive for my business.  I don't answer my phone when I'm teaching or working.  How quickly do I return calls when people call about my classes?  How quickly do I respond to email inquiries?  Sadly there are some times that I do take a few days to return a call.  Then I got thinking that if I was out of work because my CPR card had lapsed and I called someone who took days to call me back - how stressed would I be?  Probably as stressed as I was with my former banking institution.

Lesson learned from a horrible experience:  I need to make sure I follow up with voice mail and email in a timely fashion.  The perception someone has of me as an instructor or business depends on it.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Random acts of kindness

All this month I've been seeing friends posting what they are thankful for this month.  This morning as my children's CCD program began the kids were sharing what they were thankful for this month.  I realized I'm thankful for random acts of kindness.

I didn't realize how true that thought would be until a few hours later.

I bet you're wondering why there is a picture of a set of keys with a CPR barrier on the dashboard of my van.  What do my studio keys have to do with this post?  They tie in with why I'm thankful for random acts of kindness.

This afternoon I arrived early for my CPR for New & Expecting Parents class.  I managed to snag a really close and prime parking spot in downtown Dover.  It was a good afternoon, until I reached in my bag for my studio keys.  And they weren't there.  [you can mentally insert ominous music and images of me beginning to panic...]

Over the next hour I managed to:
  • Dump my purse and search it.
  • Search under the seats of my van.
  • Call home to have the kids start looking for my keys while I drove home.
  • Search my desk, dresser and under the furniture.
  • Drove all the way back to Dover while trying to reach someone from the studio to see if they could let me in.
  • Circled downtown looking for parking space; parked on Main St and ran down a dirt path to get to the studio to meet the nice parents who had signed up for my class.
  • Explain why class would be late.  All my equipment was locked in the studio.
  • Run up and down Central Ave along where I walked Saturday evening after my Saturday class.
  • Visit 2 downtown business near where I had parked to see if any had turned in my keys.
  • Went back to the studio to explain why there would be no class.
  • Reached someone who was going to try to find one of the local instructors to let me in.
  • Go back to looking under parked cars.
And then finally I thought to call the one other place I had stopped the night before.... Domino's.  I had picked up pizza for the kids on my way home.  And they had my keys!  The very nice woman I met when I picked them up said someone found them in the parking lot and had brought them inside.  I was so happy I thought I would cry.

Most people would just notice the keys on the ground, step over them and then keep on walking.  Some very nice person brought them in to Domino's where they nicely put them in their safe for safekeeping.

I am very thankful for random acts of kindness.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The no-pattern fleece hat

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to teach something different. I taught 2 sewing classes at the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains Older Girl conference. I had a quite a few requests for the patterns for what we made. The second project was an online pattern for an over-sized tote bag. The first project was a fleece hat. We made 2 - one to keep and one to donate. There isn't a pattern for this hat, so here are the directions. I'll try to add pictures of each step at a later time, but for now here's a pic of the same pattern but with added ears I did for my son's Halloween costume.

1. Measure your head, or the head of the person you are making the hat for.
2. Cut a rectangle out of fleece. It should be 18" high and the width should be the head measurement plus 1". For little kid hats cut only 16" high. The height is measured up the selvage, the width is across, so the measurement of your head is the stretchy part of the fleece.
3. Sew up the selvage, 1/2" seam allowance.
4. Fold up one end of the hat to the inside of the hat; making a 4-6" hem. This is the part of the hat the will fold up on the bottom.  Make sure the seam is open so that the brim lays flat and isn't bumpy.  Sew with the smallest seam allowance you can manage.

The next steps are where it gets trickier:
5. Lay the hat down flat, inside out, with the seam on one side.  Measure down 2" on the seam from the top edge and mark with a pin.  Do the same on the opposite fold.
6.  Measure 1/4 the width of the hat across the top (open) edge from the seam and mark with a pin.   Do the same on the fold.
7.  Sew a diagonal from side pin to top pin on both sides of the hat. Cut those little triangles off.
8.  Refold the hat so the back seam is in the middle, and your 2 cut top edges are in the middle.  Measure the same 2" down the side on both folds.
9. Line up the top open sides and pin towards the middle. Sew up on a diagonal (I find it easier to sew from the side to the top, not the other way around).  Cut off those little triangles.
10.  Remove any pins that are left & turn the hat right-side-out because... you're done!

If you want to add a tassle, ears, or anything else you'll do that when sewing the top. I sometimes make a loop or tassle from the triangle piece I cut off.  I trim it to the shape I want, tuck it up inside the hat and sew the ends in when I'm sewing the last 2 top seams.

Enjoy your hat!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What is online certification?

I received this comment on my posting of the video of the 2010 Guidelines on my Coastal CPR & First Aid Blog:  

The term “accreditation” is an often-misunderstood term in the CPR industry. No organization exists that provides a national endorsement or accreditation to any CPR course provider. The American Heart Association cannot approve, endorse, or give accreditation for CPR training for any other organization. Each first aid certification provider is free to construct their own curriculum, standards, and teaching methods based on the ECC/ILCOR guidelines. American Academy of CPR & First Aid, Inc, courses strictly follow the ECC/ILCOR guidelines.

So at first I'm irritated, but then again I get A LOT of spam on the blog. Since I moderate the blog I decided that in the interest of fairness I would post the comment, but added the following reply.

Thanks Gold Price, but consider this…. 

The American Heart Association, American Safety & Health Institute, American Red Cross, National Safety Council, and the Emergency Care & Safety Institute all also strictly follow ECC/ILCOR 2010 Guidelines. What makes their programs different than the American Academy of CPR & First Aid that you cite? 

All the programs I listed have classroom or blended online/skills courses. The program you mention is a website that lures people to pay money to read & take an online test and then print off a certification card that few employers or organizations will accept. Why are these online cards not accepted? …. because THERE IS NO HANDS ON SKILLS COMPONENT tied into the skills. But let’s look deeper into the ILCOR Guidelines as published in Circulation 2010; 122: S250-S275 This is a quote from Part 1: the Executive Summary of the 2010 International Consensus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science With Treatment Recommendations
There are multiple methods for delivering course content. This section examines specific instructional methods and strategies that may have an impact on course outcomes. Short video/computer self-instruction (with minimal or no instructor coaching) that includes synchronous hands-on practice in BLS can be considered as an effective alternative to instructor-led courses.
Please note the inclusion of the phrase “that includes synchronous hands-on practice in BLS”. Any online program can follow ILCOR ECC Guidelines by just citing the 2010 Guidelines. Heck, I could post them on this website. But how well can you learn and provide a hands-on skill in an emergent situation if you’ve never practiced it?

The term "online course" can be misleading, the AHA, ASHI, and ARC all have online programs. They are "blended" courses, meaning part of the course is taken online, but the participant must meet with an instructor for a hands-on skills session before the earn the card.

Anyone can take an online course, I could take it right now and pass. My friends could ask me to take the course for them and put their name on it and they would have a card. Because the emphasis in nationally recognized programs is on a skills component to the class, these online 'programs' and their certification card the participant prints off on their own printer, are not usually accepted. Thus the participant has paid to take a brief online course and print off a worthless card.

Just posting on a website that the course is meets ILCOR or ECC Guidelines is not sufficient. Hands-on skills practice is still the best way to learn a practical skill. You can find links to all the documents on the ILCOR website

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hands Only CPR works

I realized today I had posted this on the Coastal CPR & First Aid Blog but I forgotten to repost it here.  This is a great story and what the article linked below fails to mention is that multiple bystanders assisted and helped save this man's life.

Last month several runners collapsed during the Market Square Day 10K. One suffered Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

You can read the story in the Portsmouth Herald

In July's CPR by Donation class one of the participants in the class mentioned that she was there. She didn’t assist with CPR, and not because she didn’t want to. She said that there were so many people there already helping him it just made sense to stand back and wait to see if she was indeed needed. She said bystanders started Hands-Only CPR right away and that after the Portsmouth Fire Department used their defibrillator the runner was conscious when placed in the ambulance. Last I had heard from other sources is that he is recovering well.

This is great news! Early onset of Hands-Only CPR works.

But the most rewarding part of the story for me is that so many people jumped in to help. No one was afraid to help someone, a total stranger, a runner in a race, when he needed help the most. This man is alive and recovering well due to the hands and hearts of bystanders who were just watching a race go by. They are the winners of the day.




Friday, September 14, 2012

Cruiser behind a sign

I know it's not Wordless Wednesday.  Nor I have I been particularly stellar about posting an interesting picture every Wednesday. But I saw this on a friend's FB wall and just wanted to share. :)  Happy Friday!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I won't bail on you

I had the pleasure of picking up a last minute class this weekend.  Not last minute because someone or an organization forgot they needed certification until they were all expired.  No, this was last-minute because the instructor they scheduled the class with called and canceled on them just days before the class was supposed to be held.

It kinda got me thinking.... who schedules a class with a group and then cancels on them because they don't have anyone to teach the class?

Since I started my business I have only canceled a class twice, both times were due to snowstorms.  I rescheduled as quickly as possible.  The only other reason I would cancel would be if I were so ill I couldn't do the course.  But I would never schedule a course on a day or time that I couldn't be there to teach the class.

But I suppose in larger organizations this may be more common.  But as I thought of that I thought of one of the larger training organization I've become affiliated with, and they confirm they have an instructor before they book the class.  Another doesn't confirm that in advance, but they cover every course they book - even it if means travel for an out-of-the-area instructor.

Then at the class I found out that this was the 3rd time this instructor (or organization) had canceled on them. I respect that the person scheduling the class for her staff was trying to work with someone who had been providing their courses for years, but felt badly that she had to scramble to reschedule more than once.

So all I can think of is that the instructor that was supposed to provide the course just doesn't take the courses they provide, or the scheduling of those classes, very seriously.  I mean, why would you schedule a course that you knew you couldn't provide?  Or perhaps they either don't care about what they do or the people they are providing courses for.  I suppose there is a whole host of different reasons I could come up with for why someone would cancel on the same organization 3 times in a row.

I am just thankful that the organization that needed the class reached out to me.  I did have to do a little schedule-juggling to accommodate the day and time they had already scheduled their staff to attend, and I didn't confirm that I would be there until I had made sure I had someone to watch my children. 

If I booked someone to come teach a course for me I would expect them to provide the course as scheduled, or arrange for someone else to provide the class for me.  As an instructor and as a small business owner I don't schedule courses that I cannot provide.  I do provide referrals to other instructors in the area and am happy to do so.  I have met someone wonderful instructors who I know take the courses they provide seriously and would provide an great class.  But the point of my post today is that I won't bail on anyone.  If some last minute emergency came up in my household I would find another instructor to provide the course or I would be there.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

TMI - please just stick to the facts

I was thinking this morning about TMI (too much information, in case well, you didn't know what it meant, but maybe that is tmi?).

I was wondering when people call their local PD, or 911, why they feel the need to start telling all this information that isn't completely relevant to a total stranger on the phone.  And then I started thinking about some of the blogs I read, and my twitter feed, and realized maybe it's the anonymity of it all.  Perhaps we like sharing things with someone, or an audience, that we can't actually see.

Lately I've been trying to simplify my life.  Things can be so complicated sometimes.  And a bit of my simplifying is thinking about how wordy I can be sometimes, and trying to say more with less.

But back to this mornings random thoughts, which were prompted by a dispatching shift yesterday and got me thinking about several of my previous shifts.  Thankfully I'm a per diem, so I don't have to think about this stuff every day.

My co-workers and I don't really need to know your personal life story, medical history, your opinions on how intelligent or not you are, taxpayer status, how you can't read signs, or the amazing way that you managed to break into your own car after you locked the keys in it unless it is absolutely relevant to why you are calling.  Just tell us in a simple and concise manner why you need the police, fire dept, animal control officer or whomever to help you out.  Answer our questions simply.  We need to know things like what the situation is, where you are, how to call you back and who you are.  I don't need to know that you are horribly embarrassed and questioning your intelligence level because you didn't see or read the sign that the state park gate was going to be locked at 8pm and it's now after 8 and you're locked in.

We talk to a lot of people on the phone and radio.  A LOT.  That's not shouty, that's capitalized because we get a lot of phone calls and speak to potentially hundreds of people in a shift.  The more efficiently we can take your information the more efficiently we can dispatch the appropriate responder to the situation.  Getting chatty on the phone isn't an efficient use of my time and resources. 

There are some situations that do require us to keep you on the phone, sometimes just chatting, and that is for your safety or the safety of our responders.  We'll let you know when we need to do that. 

So please don't think we're rude when we ask some basic questions, try to stop you from continuing to provide us with TMI, and let you know we have help or a responder on the way.  That's just us doing our job efficiently and as simply as possible. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

One of the Best. Books. Ever

I have never compiled a list of my favorite books, but just finished one that I will call One of the Best. Books. Ever. 

This book is just plain awesome. There is no other word for it.


I have never laughed inappropriately so hard in my life.  In fact today I bumped into someone in the library who also just finished it and her daughter confirmed that she also laughed inappropriately while reading it.

This books is AWESOME!  But seriously, my raving about its awesomeness is not necessarily going to explain why this is one of the Best. Books. Ever.  So I shall explain.  It's a sort of biography/memoir of the odd interesting life of Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess

For anyone who actually reads my blog who doesn't actually know me (although I'm not sure if anyone who doesn't know me actually reads this blog), I work part time as an emergency dispatcher.  I have on occasion said that when I'm at work it's like getting paid to be entertained.  I've also said that there is no way I could ever make up the kinds of stuff we end up dealing with at work.  My imagination is just not that great people!  I am no longer stumped, amazed or awed by the incredibly strange and bizarre things that people do.  Which is why Let's pretend this never happened is so amazing. It's funny, made me laugh, and I was not  frightened amazed by all the interesting things that have happened in her life.



When I was dispatching full-time one of my co-workers and I started a journal, called "Only in Durham".  We listed all the really, really, bizarre stuff that would come in.  I have no idea if this journal exists anywhere anymore, but Jenny's chapter on The Dark and Disturbing Secrets HR Doesn't Want You to Know is right on the same page as the crap interesting things we had to deal with every day.  Yes, the chapter was so fun I took a picture of it.

I think this book is so cool I put it on Pinterest.  Read the book.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Things happen for a reason and that's how I diagnosed duck itch

Ever have one of those why do things happen they way they do kind of conversations with yourself?  Like, if you hadn't gotten stuck in that traffic jam you would have been at the store too early and missed the unannounced 50% off sale that started 2 minutes after you walked in the store?  Okay, that only happened to me once.  But this was one of those kind of days.

I'm visiting my mom, who lives in apartment at my sister's.  So we're kind of visiting everyone.  Except my sister and 3 of her boys are at camp all day.  We had a rip roaring thunderstorm with hail blow through that afternoon.  My mom doesn't like to drive in bad weather, so I offered to drive my niece to her doctor’s appointment.  She was having some sort of allergic reaction to bug bites.

The doctor seemed stumped, was calling for referrals, and was joking about crazy bugs in NH.  Um... hello? we don't have crazy bugs in NH.  I'm visiting in CT.  We all have the same bugs.  But then suddenly it hits me, I remember a conversation I had with a friend this past winter about taking the kids to visit them up at Lake Winnipesaukee to go swimming.  And she had said, No, we'll come to visit you at the beach and I had said why?  And she had said Duck Itch.  So out of the blue, at the doctor's office I say "Hey, maybe it's duck itch" and the pediatrician looks at me like I'm possessed strange and tells me never he heard of it before.

Now I have to add in here that everyone at this doctor’s office was either carrying a laptop or pushing a cart around with a laptop on it.  But somehow, even surrounded by this wealth of technology, I was able to google duck itch and bring up pics to show the doctor on my droid, with a crappy signal, before he was able to look it up on his laptop.  Okay, I'm so not going to spend too much time trying to figure that one out.

This is duck itch. The pediatrician
liked the term "Swimmer's Itch"
much better.


Anyway, that is how without having seen it before in real life, I was able to diagnose duck itch.

It’s a bacterial infection from the parasites in duck poop.  Yeah, I know… yuck!  But it can be somewhat common in lakes and ponds near the shoreline where the water doesn’t circulate as well.  You can read more about it on the NH StateParks website.

Update: I posted a more researched post on Duck Itch at my new Coastal CPR & First Aid Blog

Friday, July 13, 2012

Just how long is a First Aid CPR AED course?

Every now and then I get a call from someone who seems surprised by how long a class is.  Today was no exception. 

A CPR AED course is about 3 hours long.  It can run shorter if everyone is renewing their card or if it is a small group.  Since I teach both AHA and ASHI I find the full course is about 2.5-3 hours long.  Renewal courses that I offer through the ASHI program can be as short as 2 hours.

A First Aid or Pediatric First Aid course is also about 3 hours long.  Sometimes I plan on 3 1/2 hours for a class if I know the group is large or if it is a first class for most of the group.  The AHA video has a lot of information on it and I just can't make it play any faster than it is supposed to.  With the ASHI program I do a mix of video, lecture and scenario-based practice.  But still, it takes time.  Even if everyone is renewing their cards there are key topics I am required to cover and have participants practice.

So you can guess that a First Aid CPR AED course, covering both First Aid AND CPR AED can be anywhere from 4-6 hours long.  Shorter if it is a refresher or renewal course, longer if there are folks who have never taken a course before.

I guess I should not be amazed when someone calls and tells me that they need a course for their staff, the person who used to provide their courses is no longer teaching, and ... they did the entire First Aid CPR AED course in 2 1/2 hours.

Part of me wants to say.... maybe that's why they are not teaching anymore.  But I don't.  It's just not worth it.  Instead I have to explain why the course is as long as it is.  I give them lots of info, how much it will cost, how to schedule a class with me and sometimes some dates that I am available to teach.  But I know they probably won't call back.  All I can think after the call ends is that you get from the course what you put into it and what is provided to you.  What can you learn about adult, child, infant CPR AED, choking and first aid in just 2 1/2 hours?  Is there time to practice any of the information provided?  For the staff who needs this for work  & state licensing I question how well prepared they will be to handle an emergency in the workplace when they've not been provided with enough instruction and practice to know what to do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Trapped!

In just over a week we'll be trapped for the weekend.  It will be fun.  Why will we be trapped and why do I have a picture of the Blue Angels flying over my head?

It's the Boston Portsmouth Air Show  aka the Pease Air Show on Saturday and Sunday.  I live in Newington, a very small town next to Pease that only has 2 roads in and out of town.  One is shut down while the planes are flying.  The other, the highway, becomes a parking lot as people try to drive to and from the air show and with the planes flying over the highway.  They do test flights Friday afternoon, so we are basically trapped in town from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon.  Newington doesn't have much in the village so if we run out of anything we're out of it until Monday.  It also means I don't teach or work anywhere all weekend since, well, we're basically trapped.

I took the picture standing next to my house. With my then Blackberry. That's my neighbors house in the edge of the picture.  Yes, you can read the words on the plane.  It was pretty close.  The day before we got surprised by the flyovers on the highway and honestly I waved to the pilots and I swear they could see us in our cars.

Since we're trapped at home it's like a vacation, but with all the conveniences of home.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My first race!

If you've been following (or liking - I'm still not sure how to incorporate that into a good sentence) my Facebook page you probably saw my posts on my first road race.  Yes I entered a race!  And yes, I both finished and survived to write about it.

If you know me you know I am NOT a runner.  But I do like to walk.  While I'm reasonably healthy, I should be in better shape and I definitely need to lose some weight.  I'm not exactly the poster child for Heart Health in my classes.  I have a pretty healthy diet, but exercise was definitely lacking.  So this year I decided to try competitive walking.  Why competitive walking?  Because if I don't have a goal I've publicly committed to, I know I'll let other things in my life (kids, classes, work, housework, reading....) distract me and keep me from my goals.

So last Saturday I walked in the Children's Museum of New Hampshire 5K.  It was a lot harder than I anticipated.  I had walked the course once last year.  I remembered that there were hills.  I forgot that last year I walked slowly up those hills pushing a stroller.  This year no stroller, and trying to keep a good pace to keep up with the other walkers.  I think I had also forgotten that the race started by running or walking uphill.

Anyway, I am so excited by how well I did!  Did I come in first?  No!  Did I expect to?  No! My goal was to try to finish in 1 hour and possibly not be the last person to cross the finish line.  I did so much better than I anticipated.  I finished just under 50 minutes with a blistering 16:05/mile pace.  MUCH faster than I had thought I could do.  Proof is here on the CoolRunning.com website. I finished 26th out of 44 registered walkers.  So much better than I had thought I could do and it really has me energized to keep going!

I still need to work on improving my eating habits, and get back into the Weight Watchers routine again, but I'm already planning my next race.  I'm hoping to join up with an informal group that does racewalking training and I just splurged on some good quality running/walking shoes.  Walking is such an easy way to exercise.  You don't have to join a gym, and other than good sneakers or shoes you don't need fancy or expensive equipment,  You can set your own pace and distance, and you can walk with others for company.  It's also not too stressful on your joints and you can do it whenever it fits into your schedule.

A quick disclaimer: You should always check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine. Since I had a concern with my knees I visited and discussed my fitness goals with an orthopedist before increasing the distance I was walking.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Customer service

A few weeks ago I was told in an email that I didn't know the difference between customer service provided by a service provider and customer service provided by a store clerk.  It wasn't suggested in a nice manner so it's something I've been mulling off and on for a few weeks.  I knew I would blog about it, but wanted to make sure I wasn't reacting to the tone of the email.

I guess for me there really isn't a difference.

As a service provider (my courses) I do my best to meet the needs of my clients.  I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to receive positive reviews on the evaluation forms I use at the end of my classes. 

I also greatly appreciate anyone who provides a good service for me.  It doesn't matter to me if you are a clerk in a store, the person bagging my groceries, the customer service associate on the phone or someone I've hired to perform a job or task.  I'm quick to thank them for a good job.  If I get one of those store survey links on my receipt I do the survey and try to mention by name the associate who helped me out.  I can only hope the feedback from those surveys does reach that employee or their manager so they know that their hard work is appreciated.

Do you let people know when you appreciate the effort they put in to help you out?  Part of what I read into in the email was that the expectation is that the clerk in the store is expected to provide good customer service, and thus is not deserving of any type of reward or tip.  Conversely we should be overjoyed that the service provider actually did provide good service and should be given additional monetary compensation for a job well done.  Is the expectation then that we are expecting them to not do a good job and then only pay their normal rate for poor service?  Think about some of your past shopping experiences, we can all think of a really good helpful person and someone who was just meeting their job description.

I don't teach my courses expecting tips for doing a good job.  Technically I really am only expected to cover the course material and that is it.  I make my classes fun, interesting & exciting because I want to and because I want the participants to value what I do and call me again in 2 years when they need to recertify. 

Good customer service means repeat business, no matter if you're a store clerk, delivery person, dispatcher, web designer, coach, product installer, writer or a CPR instructor.  Don't be shy about letting someone know that you appreciate their hard work, dedication and that they're doing a good job.  I obviously can't speak for everyone, but having someone tell me that they appreciate what I do or how I do it means a lot.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The class you sign up for should cover what it advertises

A few weeks ago I was invited to have a table at an employee health & wellness fair.  I got to meet a lot of really nice people.  Many of whom were parents of infants and young children.  I was able to teach several in what to do if their infant or child was choking.  All in all I had a great morning and am so happy to have been able to teach everyone who was interested in practicing or watching.

But one thing did make me sad.  One of the new moms said she had taken a local course just a month or so beforehand that was offered by a different AHA Training Center than mine.  It was advertised as Adult, Child & Infant CPR and with a new baby at home she really wanted to learn Infant CPR.  She said the instructor covered Adult CPR AED in great detail, but then rushed them through Child and Infant CPR AED, barely covering it.  She said she felt unsure and  less than confident that she would know what to do in an emergency at home.  That made me both sad and angry.  People sign up for CPR AED courses for a variety of reasons, many just because they want to learn just Adult CPR AED or just Child or Infant CPR.  A community course has to be able to cover ALL the skills of CPR AED for ALL ages, since we're never sure why people are registering for the class.

When you register for a CPR AED course don't be shy about confirming it will cover the skills that you want to learn.  Sometimes if the course is offered by a separate organization from the instructor, such as community or adult education program, you may not be registering directly with the instructor or their training center or site.  Ask the instructor at the start of the class if they will be covering the skills you signed up to learn.

For the new mom I met, she had hired a sitter and paid for both her husband and herself to attend a class that did not cover what they needed.  It was a waste of their time and money.  Sadly the course was advertised as covering Infant CPR (I know because I checked the website for the location the course was held at) and barely touched on it.  So she had signed them up thinking, according to the website description, that this course covered exactly what she wanted and needed to learn.

For the instructors reading my blog - do you cover what you are advertising that you are covering?  Do you rush through your class?  You have an obligation to teach ALL the skills the course is supposed to cover.  Put yourself in the shoes of the participants in your class and teach the way you would want someone to teach you.  While some people register for a class as a workplace obligation, many are there because they want to be there.  They have registered, scheduled themselves to be there and in most cases have paid to be there.  We owe them our undivided attention to covering all the skills that they signed up to learn.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One step at a time

My blogging skills have been lacking lately.  Not because I have nothing to say... if you know me you know I'm just full of things I could easily discuss.  I've been busy writing for others, stressing over the move of my domain to a new web host, converting to a Word Press site and a myriad of family things have just kept me plain old busy.  I've also become addicted to Kindle books which I read on my laptop or droid.  Not the most productive of addictions.  My class schedule is starting to fill up a bit too which is a good thing.

But today I finally did something I said I was going to do and have been meaning to do.  I'm taking a step in the right direction .... literally.

I registered for a 5K road race.

Now before you think ... "dang, she's a runner?"  The answer is No.  I am not a runner.  I registered as a competitive walker. 

I walk a lot around town, I like to walk.  I need to be in better shape and what better way to do it?  How can I teach First Aid, CPR and safety if I'm not as fit as I could be?  If I'm registered for a race then I know I've made the commitment to train and prepare for it.  I'll probably come in last, and I'm okay with that.  As long as I finish I will be happy.  Because this will not be the only race of the season that I am entering.  I'm publicly admitting that I'm entering the Seacoast Road Race Series, which means I'll have to walk at least 6 of the 8 races to qualify for a series jacket.  It also means I have to walk 2 10K races since the only 8K is my own Fox Point Sunset 5 Mile Road Race that I have volunteered at and have helped organize for several years.  I have volunteer jobs to do during the race, so I'll have to sit that one out.  Well, not sit exactly ... but I'll be busy prepping for the Fun Run, end of race activities and of course our most-awesome post-race BBQ which will have AWESOME food for everyone!

So if all goes well I'll be posting for a while about my training and races, and still throwing in some fun and interesting CPR & First Aid stuff.  'Cause I know everyone likes to read about the fun stuff I discuss in my classes.

Friday is my Wicked Exercise class at the Seacoast YMCA that I can thank for better fitting jeans and hopefully I'll get a walk in before a noontime appointment.  If I can find the map you might find me walking the Jason Hussey 5K route since I'll be in Greenland.  Taking one step at a time in the right direction.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yes, I peel their faces off

In every class I watch the participants fiddle with the ears or jaws of my mannequins.  That's where the faces attach to the mannequin body.  I think people like to fiddle with them because I don't actually stretch the faces over the pegs.  Mostly because on the adult mannequins they don't stay on the pegs, and on the infant mannequins it just ends up tearing them.

But everyone loves to fiddle.  Sometimes they even start to peel them back.  So I'll fill you in on something.

All the instructors peel the faces off their mannequins after every class.

Yup, we do!  Sounds gross I know. But that's so that we can clean them very well.  The mannequins are cleaned after every class.  It's not just because we want you to have clean equipment to practice on (we do!), we have all each made a substantial investment in our training equipment.  Keeping it clean helps it to last longer. Some brands of mannequins the faces don't peel off, on some their whole heads come off!  But the instructor cleans them very, very thoroughly after each use. So know you now what we do after every class - we peel their faces off.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Keeping warm when running in the cold

I wear a lot of hats.  If you read my bio (on the right side of this blog next to my pic) you'll notice I have a family, small business and I mentioned that I volunteer.  In addition to Girl Scouts I'm also active with our local School Supporters and that includes helping organize our largest fundraiser of the year, a 5 mile road race.
This is the hat my mom made me.

My favorite hat is the one I wear this time of year when it's really cold.  Its a real hat, not a figurative one, its the one my mom made for me.  I think if your mom makes you a hat your should wear it.  But while I really like my hat, it's not actually what this post is about. 

I'm writing about my running hat,... sort of.  I'll state up front I'm not a runner. I help organize a race, but I don't run.  Someday .... yeah right.  I'm shooting for competitive walker.  Anyway when the temps get really cold outside and I wake up to single digits on the outdoor thermometer I start thinking about cold weather tips.  This morning I saw some friends posting about running in single digit temps (in the dark!) and it got me thinking, and researching a bit, what runners should wear when running in cold weather.  So compliments of Active.com I'm posting some tips for cold weather running. 

Don't overdress.  This would be the mistake I would make.  If you pile on too many layers of clothing you'll get really hot, and then try to strip down, and then get cold.  Hat & gloves are great, breathable layers are best on your torso, warm clothes on your legs.  Running in a heavy coat is probably not advisable.

You still need a hat and gloves.  Your hands and the top of your head still need to be kept warm.  A head band or something to cover your ears can also be worn.  Warm socks are also good, but not the kind that make your feet sweat.   A scarf or gaiter that you can loosen around your neck can also be nice.

You still need to drink water or an electrolyte enriched drink.  You can still get dehydrated running in the cold, that does not change with temperature.  Active suggests snow but I'm not sure how comfortable I am grabbing a fistful of snow from the side of the road to quench my thirst.

Be visible.  The sun rises later and sets earlier. If you're running when it's dark where reflective clothing and/or carry a light so cars can see you.

Wear or carry ID.  You should have ID on you in case of an emergency.  I'm a fan of my Road ID since I can just put it on my wrist and forget about it.

If the weather is really inclement or the wind chills are really bitter, take a moment to decide if it is really worth going out for the run.  If you have someplace indoors you can run switch up your routine and try the treadmill or indoor track.

Keep warm!