Americans need to further trust the most trusted profession in America: nurses. We need their help, based on their ability to teach and their ability to perform basic life support (BLS). We need them to be a part of any wellness program in which the goal is (as it should be) to empower employees by educating employees.
We need nurses to show us how easy it is to save a life by also telling us how simple it is to learn how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). We need them to remind us that it does not take a lifetime to master, or a lot of time to deliver, what we can do in our spare time.
The courses are available online, and a certificate awaits each person who completes the coursework, so we may increase the number of people who can respond to a life-threatening emergency with the life-saving power of CPR.
As a scientist, I commend that effort. As the father of a doctor, I applaud that effort. As an American, I plan to make the effort to emulate that effort; because not even the most expensive wellness program is worth a dime (never mind a dollar or tens of millions of dollars) if, in the end, there is not a dime’s worth of difference between a wellness plan that says a lot and does nothing, and no wellness plan at all. To engage employees, then, employers must partner with the most engaging group of professionals: nurses.
Nurses can lead this effort. They can speak to the value of CPR, when time is of the essence because there is neither a minute to spare nor a second to second-guess what to do. They can speak to this issue in a way few can, thanks to the prominence they possess, the principles they represent, and the pride they have a right to enjoy.
They speak about what they know, which is what we must all come to know: that you cannot wait for first responders to arrive on the scene if you are the only person at the scene, at that moment, who can save a life before time expires and a paramedic says that the person at your feet has expired.
By entrusting our safety to nurses, we reinforce the trustworthiness of their profession. We have good reason to do so. We have many reasons to do so, as CPR is often times the factor when a life-threatening emergency happens. It can strike people of all ages, striking them down forever unless someone is there, at the ready, to save a life by administering a life-saving procedure.
At that moment between life and death, it is not enough to hope that someone will help. We must know that the help a person needs is the help a person will get.
To improve the odds, more people must learn BLS and/or CPR. To achieve that goal requires encouragement from nurses. They have a degree of authority few can match, and even fewer can exceed, which reflects years of training and decades of combined application. They alone can do more to ensure that a person with a life-threatening emergency is not alone.
Should an emergency happen at work, the outcome will depend on what a worker does, if he knows what to do—if he knows how to do it—instead of all workers watching in silence or screaming in panic, based on what they see but cannot solve; based on what they hope someone else will solve when help comes; based on what they pray will happen—that an outsider will run inside, in time but not out of breath—instead of them saying a prayer for the soul of their departed coworker;based on what they themselves should have done, which they would have done, had they learned the basics of basic life support.
The point is that nurses can save more lives by having more people enroll, in-person or online, to take a CPR certification course.
Companies should invite nurses to do what they already do so well: represent the cause of health and wellness. Let us embrace the nursing profession by including nurses in programs about corporate wellness. Let us learn the skills they want us to practice.
CPR is too important a skill not to learn. It is too vital to the life and longevity of a healthy society for us not to recognize.
It is too indispensable to saving lives for us not to spare the time to acquire that skill. It is, as nurses will tell us, a skill that determines the value of corporate wellness. It is a skill that no skilled worker, regardless of rank or experience, should not know. It is a skill that works to save lives.