Archive for the ‘Safety Matters’ Category

Holiday Stress

November 16th, 2020 by admin

Well, thankfully, 2020’s end is in sight. We can all enjoy a collective sigh of relief. But now that you have relaxed a bit, it is time to start stressing about the holidays — just in the “Nick” of time.

All kidding aside, this is always a stressful time of year, especially if you are a people pleaser. If you love all the preparations that go into the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas gifts or Halloween decorations, then this has been your season to shine. Unfortunately, there may be a cost. The 2018 statistics differ quite a bit on this — the American Psychological Association (APA) approximates that 38% of Americans feel stress during the holidays, while Principal Financial Group (PFG) found that the number was much higher, at 58%. If we dig deeper into the APA’s survey, we see 69% of those surveyed feel “extreme stress” of having not enough time to shop or not having enough funds to cover their purchases. Another 51% stress about the pressure to give gifts.

An older study conducted in 2008 showed that stressful holidays lead to an average of 2.14 days lost to “presenteeism.” You read that right. Presenteeism, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, is almost as costly as illness-related absenteeism or disabilities, due to less productivity of those who are present but are not performing at full capacity. The dollar figure assigned to this depression-related loss is a staggering $35 billion (yes, with a B). For comparison, work-related and physical pain-related cases such as back pain, headaches, etc., result in around $47 billion in losses each year.

The first part of fixing anything is acknowledging the problem: The holidays are stressful. If we know there is a risk, then we ought to work on addressing that risk. Remember, OSHA encourages us to find hazards and work to eliminate them. It just so happens that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a publication on this very topic, NIOSH 99-101, “Stress at Work.” It is worth the read. Job stressors are different then holiday stressors, for sure. However, both can have long-term ill effects.

Since we have acknowledged there is a hazard in the form of holiday stress, the next phase would be to manage that stress. Often, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) provide some level of training on stress management; however, it is usually in the arena of work-related, not holiday-related, stress. The process is the same, though, and we all need help from time to time.

In the new era of COVID-19, either this problem may become mute or it may double in size. Employees working from home may feel as though they can never get away from their work. The need to get work done as well as decorate or shop for loved ones and co-workers can be overwhelming.

Some pointers and tips from the NIOSH 99-101 document, as referenced by the journal American Psychologist, are:

  • Ensure that the workload is in line with workers’ capabilities and resources.
  • Design jobs to provide meaning, stimulation and opportunities for workers to use their skills.
  • Clearly define workers’ roles and responsibilities.
  • Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs.
  • Improve communications to reduce uncertainty about career development and future employment prospects.
  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among workers.
  • Establish work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job.

You will notice social interaction is on this list, showing how important it is for the human experience. We are social beings, after all. Along these lines is where we may see a spike in stressors. While Zoom, GoToMeeting and Microsoft Teams programs are fantastic tools for sure, there is something about meeting face-to-face.

I have had the fortune in my life to travel the country and the world through the military, as a dependent (I went to 11 schools growing up and lived in Japan and Greece) and as a service member, not to mention the countless travels for LP visits and training sessions. I have also been on mission trips through South and Central America and Europe. One truth I have observed: We, as the human race, need each other. We crave physical contact, like a handshake or a hug, universally. We like to look at the faces of those with which we communicate. We read mood, intent and feelings by facial expressions. A subtle eyebrow arch, ear lobe tug or lip twitch can express important information.

Unfortunately, we can miss these subtle clues quite easily while communicating with a mask on or through a two-dimensional screen. We have already experienced this difference when most of us began text messaging instead of talking. ALL CAPS might indicate anger, or it may mean the person just forgot to touch the caps lock button. Same principle.

Encourage your employees to come forward with feelings of stress. Provide some stress-management training, if possible. A study conducted by Investors in People, a workplace development group, found that most managers do not believe stress affects productivity. Managers need to start with the knowledge that stress plays a huge role in productivity. Come up with creative solutions to help your employees deal with and get through the stressful holidays. We already know it will pay off in the end. Showing support and working with your employees will produce a safer, healthier and more productive workplace.

I located some tips from some psychology and wellness websites. Here are a few I thought might help:

  • Exercise. Stress can cause weight gain, so exercise has a multipronged effect.
  • Diet. We all know this, so maybe it is time to start a healthy one already!
  • Hug your loved ones. Interesting how I mentioned this earlier and it is on the recommended list as a stress reliever.
  • Take time for leisure activities, especially while working from home. Cut out time in your day to get away from the computer and to put your phone on silent.
  • Interestingly, having an attitude of gratitude made this list. Listing those things you are grateful for instead of thinking about the things that are causing an inconvenience goes a long way in reducing stress.
  • Lastly, cut that thing out that is causing the stress, if it is unbearable.

We have all felt that our world has changed since COVID-19 hit. We are not in public as much, we are not at the office physically as much, and our contact with others has been limited by mandate. Add this to normal holiday stress, and people may really begin to feel overwhelmed.

We as an industry can and should do what is possible to help our fellow workers and employees. We have enough uncertainty already. This year of 2020, maybe more than ever, will bring us an even stronger reason to celebrate the holidays, hopefully together. All this being said, here is to hoping for a brighter tomorrow and wonderful 2021, and maybe we can all put this horrendous 2020 behind us.

Lightning Safety

August 3rd, 2020 by admin

Did you know there is no safe place outside when you get caught in a thunderstorm? According to the experts at the National Weather Service, if you can hear thunder, you are within lightning-strike distance. This should be all that anyone needs to hear. So, I’ll end the article here.

Well, I know that all of you love to read and delve further into my thoughts when it comes to all things safety, so I guess I shall continue.

Some interesting facts about lightning:

  • Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun at a nice, balmy 50,000 F.
  • Reports show lightning strikes the United States 25 million times per year, and it can strike the same place twice.
  • It can strike throughout the entire year, not just the summertime.
  • According to the National Weather Service, lightning kills 20 people a year in the United States alone and injures hundreds more. OSHA has that total at 50, and this type of differing information is what leads to misinformation.

There are so many myths about lightning floating around that it can be hard to know what is real. We are constantly learning more about our environment, and our knowledge changes constantly.

One example of a lightning myth is, “If it is not raining, you are safe from lightning strikes.” The reality is that lightning often strikes up to 3 miles away from the center of the thunderstorm. It is also common for lightning to strike up to 15 miles from a thunderstorm. A certain documented case from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at Kennedy Space Center in Florida documented lighting traveling almost 90 miles outward from a thunderstorm center!

Another myth I have heard is, “If you are stuck outside in a thunderstorm, you should lie flat on the ground to limit your body’s exposure to a strike.” There are documented events where lightning has spread out up to 60 feet after it strikes the earth, so if you are lying flat on the ground, you are now at risk of potentially deadly ground contact. Your best bet is to keep running until you get to a substantial shelter.

Another myth I have read about is that rubber tires insulate you from a strike if you are in your vehicle. It is not the tire but the metal frame of the vehicle that protects you, by sending the lightning to ground. The lightning is powerful enough to go right through the tire. The problem would be if you were touching part of the metal frame when struck. This fact leads to the knowledge that convertibles, motorcycles, bikes and high-end sports cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from a lightning strike.

What does OSHA say about working outdoors and lightning? To start with, OSHA does list jobs/industries most vulnerable.

  • Logging
  • Explosives handling or storage
  • Heavy equipment operation
  • Roofing
  • Construction (e.g., scaffolding)
  • Building maintenance
  • Power utility field repair
  • Steel erection/telecommunications
  • Farming and field labor
  • Plumbing and pipe fitting
  • Lawn services/landscaping
  • Airport ground personnel operations
  • Pool and beach lifeguarding

You see our industry listed along with steel erection. I understand this is in reference to tower construction; however, if you look at the rest of these industries, you will notice that our OSP personnel fit right into this group easily. Oftentimes they are working outside, on a rural roadside, next to a piece of machinery that may be loud, so they are wearing hearing protection. Subsequently they may not hear or notice the thunder, and they become vulnerable immediately. Therefore, it is imperative for crewmembers and supervisors to be watchful of the current weather and stop the outdoor activity when necessary.

OSHA advises the following: Check NOAA weather reports, seek shelter in buildings, use vehicles as shelter when possible and maintain landline safety (do not use a landline during a thunderstorm). The best rule of thumb to follow is to wait for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder before resuming work.

Consider the types of vehicles we use in our industry — pole trucks, bucket trucks, directional boring rigs, etc. — and the effect of a lightning strike on each. A strike to one of these vehicles can cause a fire/explosion. Teach your employees to respect the weather and follow the guidelines of lightning safety.

Another OSHA guideline is having an Emergency Action Plan (see 29 CFR 1910.38 or 29 CFR 1926.35) in place for what to do in the event of a storm. The EAP should include written lightning safety protocol such as:

  • Inform supervisors and workers to act after hearing thunder, seeing lightning or perceiving any other warning signs of approaching thunderstorms.
  • Indicate how workers are notified about lightning safety warnings.
  • Identify locations and requirements for safe shelters.
  • Indicate response times necessary for all workers to reach safe shelters.
  • Specify approaches for determining when to suspend outdoor work activities and when to resume outdoor work activities.
  • Account for the time required to evacuate customers and members of the public, and the time needed for workers to reach safety.

Training employees on what to do is essential to safety. NOAA has this advice to follow:

  • Lightning is likely to strike the tallest objects in a given area, so should not be the tallest object.
  • Avoid isolated tall trees, hilltops, utility poles, cell phone towers, cranes, large equipment (like those we use in telecommunications), ladders, scaffolding or rooftops.
  • Avoid open areas, such as fields. Never lie flat on the ground.
  • Retreat to dense areas of smaller trees surrounded by larger trees, or retreat to low-lying areas (e.g., valleys, ditches) but watch for flooding.
  • Avoid water, and immediately get out of and away from bodies of water (e.g., pools, lakes).
  • Water does not attract lightning, but it is an excellent conductor of electricity.
  • Avoid wiring, plumbing and fencing. Lightning can travel long distances through metal, which is an excellent conductor of electricity. Stay away from all metal objects, equipment and surfaces that can conduct electricity.
  • Do not shelter in sheds, pavilions, tents or covered porches, as they do not provide adequate protection from lightning.
  • Seek fully enclosed, substantial buildings with wiring and plumbing. In modern buildings, interior wiring and plumbing will act as an earth ground. A building is a safe shelter as long as you are not in contact with anything that can conduct electricity (e.g., electrical equipment or cords, plumbing fixtures, corded phones).
  • Do not lean against concrete walls or floors (which may have metal bars inside).

Safety is the preparation it takes to eliminate a hazard or mitigate an outcome. Elimination is always the best option. Often we are left with the option of dealing with the aftermath only. In this case, being proactive can eliminate the hazard and mitigate the bad outcome. If we follow some basic guidelines such as those laid out here, follow the warnings from our national weather service organizations, use our common sense and not get in a rush to finish a job, we can truly reduce the contact with lightning significantly.

Statistics and information gathered from, and

Remember, we are here to help you and your employees stay safe, no matter the weather.

Do not hesitate to call me with any questions concerning safety and ways to mitigate risk within your organization.

Hurricane Preparedness and COVID-19

August 3rd, 2020 by admin

Preparing for hurricane season (typically June 1-Nov. 30) is stressful. Doing so during a pandemic can be especially stressful. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, please do not delay in preparing, as there have already been more named disturbances than in recent history.

If the past several years have taught us anything at all, it is that you could be in big trouble if you are not ready. We have seen most of our hurricanes in late August and early September, so we’re making sure we get this information out before that busy time.

As always, follow the instructions of your local city and state authorities as to the proper evacuation procedures. There is no way to predict how devastating the resulting damage from a storm can be, but you should always have a plan for your home and business and have your supplies ready.

Watch vs. Warning
A HURRICANE WATCH issued for your part of the coast indicates the possibility that you could experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. This watch should trigger your family’s disaster plan. Protective measures should be initiated, especially those that require extra time, such as securing a boat, leaving a barrier island, etc.

A HURRICANE WARNING issued for your part of the coast indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours or less. Once this warning has been issued, your family should be in the process of completing protective actions and deciding the safest location to be during the storm.

History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. Hurricane hazards come in many forms: lightning, tornadoes, flooding, storm surge and high winds. Even landslides or mudslides can be triggered in mountainous regions. Look at the safety actions associated with each type of hurricane hazard, and prepare your family and business disaster plan accordingly. But remember, this is only a guide. The first and most important thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use common sense.

Understanding that planning may be different this year, the CDC recommends:

Prepare to evacuate

  • You may need to evacuate. Prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency. Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, bar or liquid soap, disinfectant wipes (if available) and two cloth face coverings for each person. Face covers should not be used by children under the age of 2. They also should not be used by people having trouble breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated or unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Know a safe place to shelter, and have several ways to receive weather alerts, such as National Weather Service cell phone alerts, NOAA Weather Radio or @NWS Twitter alerts.
  • Find out if your local public shelter is open, in case you need to evacuate your home and go there. Your shelter location may be different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Follow guidance from your local public health or emergency management officials on when and where to shelter.
  • Make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pets. Find out if your disaster shelter will accept pets. Typically, when shelters accommodate pets, the pets are housed in a separate area from people.
  • Follow safety precautions when using transportation to evacuate. If you have to travel away from your community to evacuate, follow safety precautions for travelers to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Be sure to know any travel restrictions to “hot spots” that are in neighboring cities/states to which you might evacuate during a hurricane.

Staying with family or friends
If you will be staying with friends or family outside your household to evacuate from the storm:

  • Talk to the people you plan to stay with about how you can all best protect yourselves from COVID-19.
  • Consider if either of your households has someone who is at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, including older adults or people of any age who have underlying medical conditions. Make sure everyone knows what they can do to keep them safe from COVID-19.
  • Follow everyday preventive actions, including covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands often and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Consider taking extra precautions for people living in close quarters.
  • Know what to do if someone in your family or in the household you are staying with becomes sick with COVID-19. Take steps to keep your pets safe.

Stay safe after a hurricane

  • You should continue to follow preventive actions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, like washing your hands and wearing a cloth face covering during cleanup or when returning home or to work.
  • It may take longer than usual to restore power and water if they are out. Take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if you use a generator.
  • If you are injured or ill, contact your medical provider for treatment recommendations. Keep wounds clean to prevent infection. Remember, accessing medical care may be more difficult than usual during the pandemic.
  • Dealing with disasters can cause stress and strong emotions, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural to feel anxiety, grief and worry. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family and your community recover.
  • People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration page.
  • After a hurricane, it’s not unusual for rats, mice and other pests to try to get into your home or building. Be aware that with restaurant and commercial closures related to COVID-19, there are already reports of increased rodent activity as they try to seek other sources of food. Follow recommendations for keeping pests out of your home.

As eager as you might be to go back, returning to your home or business immediately after a hurricane can be just as dangerous as sticking around during the storm. Return only after authorities advise it’s safe. We know that you all provide a critical service to your communities and you’re among the first businesses back up and running after a hurricane. We commend you for that and remind you that we’re here to help with any claims needs you might have as a result of a hurricane.

COVID-19 tips

May 13th, 2020 by admin

Running Essential Errands

Grocery shopping, meal takeouts, banking, getting gas, doctor visits — these are among the basic errands that are presenting challenges and questions as communities across the United States take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting close contact. The following information provides advice about how to meet these and other household needs in a safe and healthy manner.

Shopping for food and other household essentials:

  • Stay home if sick.
  • Avoid shopping if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough or shortness of breath.
  • Order food and other items online for home delivery or curbside pickup (if possible).
  • Only visit the grocery store, or other stores selling household essentials, in person when you absolutely need to. This will limit your potential exposure to others and the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.
    When you do have to visit in person, go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night).
  • If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If it does, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
  • Disinfect the shopping cart, using disinfecting wipes if available.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card or a keypad). If you must handle money or a card or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.
  • After leaving the store, use hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • At home, follow food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook, chill. There is no evidence that food or food packaging has been linked to getting sick from COVID-19.

Accepting deliveries and takeout orders:

  • Limit in-person contact, if possible.
  • Pay online or on the phone when you order, if possible.
  • Accept deliveries without in-person contact whenever possible. Ask for deliveries to be left in a safe spot outside your house (such as your front porch or lobby), with no person-to-person interaction. Otherwise, stay at least 6 feet away from the delivery person.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after accepting deliveries or collecting mail.
  • After receiving your delivery or bringing home your takeout food, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • After collecting mail from a post office or home mailbox, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.


  • Bank online whenever possible.
  • If you must visit the bank, use the drive-thru ATM if one is available. Clean the ATM keyboard with a disinfecting wipe before you use it.
  • When you are done, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.

Getting gasoline:

  • Use gloves or disinfecting wipes on handles and buttons before you touch them (if available).
  • After fueling, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you get home or somewhere with soap and water.

Going to the doctor or getting medicine:

  • Use telemedicine, if available, or communicate with your doctor or nurse by phone or e-mail.
  • Talk to your doctor about rescheduling procedures that are not urgently needed.
  • If you must visit in person, protect yourself and others.
  • If you think you have COVID-19, let the office know and follow guidance.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Use disinfecting wipes if available on frequently touched surfaces such as handles, knobs and touchpads.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others while inside and in lines.
  • When paying, use touchless payment methods if possible. If you cannot use touchless payment, sanitize your hands after paying with card, cash or check. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.
  • Limit in-person visits to the pharmacy.
  • Plan to order and pick up all your prescriptions at the same time.
  • If possible, call prescription orders in ahead of time. Use drive-thru windows, curbside services (wait in your car until the prescription is ready), mail order or other delivery services. Do the same for pet medicine.
  • Check with your doctor and pharmacist to see if you can get a larger supply of your medicines so you do not have to visit the pharmacy as often.

If you or a member of your household has signs of COVID-19, call your doctor first instead of going to the office or the emergency department. Call 911 if you believe it is an emergency.

Find additional information for people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

The Rapp Sheet

May 13th, 2020 by admin

Each year the National Safety Council designates certain months to focus our safety efforts. April and June are two such months.

April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month. This year marked the 10th anniversary of this important safety month. We still lose roughly 90 Americans to auto accidents and injure about 700 in distracted driving crashes every day in the United States.

We all have loved ones, friends and/or co-workers who have been affected by loss from a vehicle accident. Severe weather, like icy conditions or fog, is one thing, but a distracted driving accident is something altogether different. Why? Because it is avoidable, every time.

June also has a moniker: National Safety Month. It is time to use NSC resources to promote the safety and health of your employees and/or customers for an entire month. Last year, the NSC sought to focus the month on 1) Hazard Recognition, 2) Slips, Trips, Falls, 3) Fatigue and 4) Impairment.

June 2020 looks a bit different.

June 1-7 is Emergency Preparedness week. Recently I wrote an article on the importance of knowing CPR. Well, the first week of June stresses that in particular. A quick read of the OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.151 will tell you there is not a designated amount of people who must be trained.

The regulation: “1910.151(a) The employer shall ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health. 1910.151(b) In the absence of an infirmary, clinic or hospital in near proximity to the workplace, which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available.”

No clear guideline is in place, so you will have to evaluate your facilities and employee distribution to determine who needs training.

The week of June 8-14 is set aside for Driving Safety. As I stated earlier, April was Distracted Driving Awareness Month. However, driving is a serious enough concern that it also gets a spot in June.

One bright spot you probably will not hear on the nightly news is the NSC’s estimates that motor vehicle deaths dropped 2% in 2019. They also dropped 2% in 2018 and 4% in 2017. That is all great news. According to the NSC, fatalities are estimated to have dropped more than 13% since 2018 in the District of Columbia (-21%) and in six states: Alaska (-16%), Connecticut (-14%), Nevada (-14%), New Hampshire (-30%), South Dakota (-21%) and Vermont (-31%). If you are from one of these places, you have my personal kudos.

Continue to encourage your employees to wear their seat belts, drive sober, put down their cell phones and avoid fatigue driving.

The week of June 15-21 covers ergonomics. Ergonomics is a term not many have heard for a while. It means the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. According to the NSC, poor ergonomics can lead to overexertion, the leading cause of preventable workplace injury. Listening to your body and properly setting up your workstation can reduce your chance of injury. Employers are encouraged to observe and review their employees’ working conditions and make necessary adjustments. Fit the job to the human, not the human to the job.

June 22-30 is the week to encourage Employee Engagement. Complacency kills, and complacent employees may be unaware of the hazards around them. Getting employees engaged can improve an organization’s safety culture and performance. Safety Committees are a great place to start. An engaged employee will quickly see the need for safe work practices once they learn how accidents affect insurance rates and OSHA recording. If you do not have a committee in place or you are interested in starting one, give us a call and we will help you out.

Each year companies are encouraged to share downloadable materials with employees, to create blog posts and distribute newsletters with information pertaining to this special month. The NSC will have plenty of material for June starting in May for you to use. I encourage you to visit frequently to find the materials.

Telcom Insurance Group sends out this material as well, usually in our monthly risk management material. If there is anything you need or if you have any questions, please call, text or email me or any of our staff.

Craig Rapp: 903-424-7453 or

The Rapp Sheet

February 12th, 2020 by admin

This quarter I’ve been tasked with writing about the importance of first-aid/CPR training. I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve been a First Aid/CPR Instructor for over 20 years now. I enjoy knowing that there is a possibility I may have inadvertently helped save someone’s life by teaching a basic lesson sometime in my career. If there ever were a more poignant phrase than “knowing and not needing vs. needing and not knowing,” I don’t know it.

My wife, Melissa, is a cardiac cath lab nurse who spent half of her career in the emergency department. I’ve heard the stories, seen the outcome and learned the importance of heart health.

The history of life-saving activities is an interesting one and worth the research. A quick recap, however, is in order. Way back in the mid-1700s, about 400 or so people died in the canals of Amsterdam every year. As a result, a group of citizens formed the Society for Recovery of Drowned Persons, and they dedicated themselves to saving people from the canals. I love that.

Today we see drastic changes from those early days. We have mechanical help at our disposal, from machines that can monitor the heart rate and shock a victim when needed (AEDs) to those that do chest compressions for first responders during transport. Amazing! Our medicines help thin the blood and reduce cholesterol levels. We have medical procedures to remove plaque from arteries in outpatient settings. It truly is a great time to be alive (pun totally intended).

But even with these advances, we still need people to step up and help our fellow citizens. Time is critical when someone isn’t breathing.
I’ve come up with eight reasons why I think training in First Aid/CPR is important. I hope you agree.

  1. First Aid/CPR saves lives. What more is there to be said? I will say more, of course. When a person is in medical crisis, the early stage of stepping in to help may be what keeps that person alive.
  2. It prevents the situation from getting worse. One of the goals of a trained person is to provide temporary treatment until professional help arrives.
  3. It can help to relieve pain and/or discomfort. Placing an ice pack, a pillow or a rolled-up jacket in the right spot can really reduce pain.
  4. It is comforting. We all know what it feels like to know that someone cares about you. When a person demonstrates that caring by action, the comforting effect can be great.
  5. It promotes an attitude of safety. Once you start the process of taking a training class, you become more aware of what is happening around you from a perspective of safety. You begin to see situations and actions that are unsafe and risky. Hopefully, that will translate into your actions changing, as well.
  6. It has been estimated that 25% of ER visits could be avoided with the administering of basic First Aid/CPR. Often people will use the ER almost as their doctor. This drives the cost up for everyone.
  7. OSHA requires it: “In the absence of an infirmary, clinic or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available. 29 CFR 1910.151(b).”
  8. We should want to help our fellow man/woman/person. This is maybe the most important.

If you’re unsure about whether you need to take a class yourself, or whether your cooperative or company needs to provide it for your employees, then I hope this article gives you some insight and influences your decision for the positive. I sincerely wish for each of you the healthiest 2020. I’m sure I’ll be seeing some of you at some point, but until then, stay safe.