Training Future Heroes: CPR training company shows citizens how to save lives

You hear it on medical shows all the time: “He’s crashing … administering CPR!” the actor says frantically, as a man playing a patient clutches his chest.

The real world is no less dramatic. Being able to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR, can mean the difference between life and death.

Every day, CPR transforms ordinary citizens into extraordinary heroes. From a person who has drowned to cardiac arrest, CPR can keep a person alive until medical help arrives.

Collier County residents are lining up to learn how they could save a life in the event of an emergency, and Collier CPR and Safety Training is ready to teach them. The company’s mission is to train and certify people on providing basic life support in an emergency.

“I feel it’s important to train and educate the community about the importance of CPR,” said Frank Smith, the owner of Collier CPR and Safety Training. “I believe 100 percent in the cause behind it.”

Smith is an authorized provider of CPR classes for both Collier and Lee County chapters of the American Red Cross and on Monday, he will receive his certification to teach American Heart Association CPR classes as well.

With assistance from his wife, Heidi, the team provides on-site training classes at the workplace or home. Classes include everything from adult, child and infant CPR to babysitter training, first aid and recertification. A full list of their classes is on the company’s Web site at

CPR buys time for the victim by supplying oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart and brain until normal heart function can be restored. Surviving cardiac arrest can often require CPR and defibrillation via an automated external defibrillator (AED). Collier County has an ordinance for registering an AED with the 911 center for quicker deployment in the event of an emergency.

“By giving CPR, you can add time because you’re keeping the person alive until an EMT or police car can get there with an AED,” Smith said. All police cars in Collier County have an AED, a fact that saved the life of a Marco Island pastor just this week.

The Marco Eagle reported recently that off-duty Collier County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. James Streeter saved the life of his pastor using an AED and CPR on Tuesday.

Emergency medical technicians, like Capt. Noemi Fraguela, an EMT-paramedic who is the training captain and AED coordinator for Collier County EMS, fully supports all community CPR training.

“According to studies, the American Heart Association states that only 15 percent to 30 percent of certain communities perform CPR on cardiac arrest victims before EMS arrives,” Fraguela said. “When a cardiac arrest victim does not receive CPR, their chances of survival drop by 10 percent each minute.”

Collier CPR works with individual residents, some of which have opted to host a CPR party at their private homes. The Smiths also teach the CPR class at businesses and community organizations.

Bank of America home loan executive Lilly Llerena met Smith’s wife, Heidi, at a bank-sponsored event. Llerena inquired about hosting a Collier CPR class at the bank.

“I deal with customers a lot and I felt that knowing CPR would be helpful,” Llerena said. “What if I was in an interview or dining out with a customer who needed me, and I would be able to save a life? I took the class for that reason.”

Debi DeBenedetto, the tourism sales and marketing manager for the Naples Marco Island Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, organized a CPR training class with Collier CPR to offer to local hotel industry partners.

“We’re in hospitality, often surrounded by groups of people at events and meetings,” DeBenedetto said. “While I hope to not have to be in the position to need to save a life, it is nice to know that if I am, I can help to save a life.”

Collier CPR and Safety Training classes include class introductions, basic principles of CPR including the Good Samaritan law, and an introductory video. Students also practice choking and heart attack scenarios on mannequins. The mannequins that Collier CPR uses are state-of-the-art — they light up to show correct CPR form.

Requirements for CPR certification from Collier CPR and Safety Training are to finish the entire class and practice all the skills using mannequins and the AED. Students must also pass an exam with an 80 percent score or better.

“We make sure students understand 100 percent of the questions and make sure they have the physical stamina to actually administer CPR,” Smith said.

Paula Terry, a licensed massage therapist and tour operator with Orchids and Egrets, attended the class at a Bank of America office on Wednesday.

“Having this knowledge is so important as a manual therapist where you’re working with people on your table, or on an eco-tour,” Terry said. “It’s very comforting to have the confidence that you can help someone if you need to.”

Student Guy Kibbe is working toward getting his captain’s license. He was a commercial blue crabber for many years and once saved a man who got run over by a boat.

“It’s gratifying to know CPR, but ultimately it will be helpful especially working on a boat,” Kibbe said. On a boat where medical care is often non-existent, knowing CPR would be a life-saving skill for any captain to have.

In addition to educating the community at large about CPR, one of Smith’s passions is working with restaurant staff on choking CPR. Restaurants are required by law to post a choking hazard poster in the restaurant, but few food servers in Collier and Lee counties know how to administer treatment for choking. Ensuring that restaurant staffers are trained to provide choking CPR is one of Smith’s priorities.

He would also like to see an AED device available in every building.

Collier CPR and Safety Training classes that include how to give CPR, responding to breathing emergencies and how to use the automatic external defibrillator (AED) are $50 and last approximately four hours.

Collier County EMS residents with unregistered AED devices can contact Fraguela at (239) 252-3779 to register their AED. For more information on Collier CPR and Safety Training or to sign up for classes, click to or call (239) 537-0495.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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