Teaching CPR and First Aid With a Twist

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While fitness professionals know that it’s crucial to stay current on the latest CPR and first-aid information, the challenge is that this type of information can be boring. However, lucky fitness pros in British Columbia get to enjoy the amusing CPR and first-aid training and recertification programs that Mark Kozlowski and his company, Life Consultants, provide. This year, Kozlowski celebrates his 20th year of making a difference in the lives of fitness pros through his teaching.

That’s Entertainment

As an exercise/strength leader and trainer 20 years ago, Kozlowski saw a need for specialized CPR and first-aid training for the fitness professional. “In the early 1980s, there was an explosion of exercise facilities, programs and instructors offering numerous exercise options and intensities for everyone,” he explains. “Com- bined with these populations were high-risk individuals with bone, joint, coronary and pulmonary diseases eager to jump on the exercise bandwagon. As a result, the potential for serious and even life-threatening injuries moved from a possibility to a reality. While most CPR and first-aid programs at the time offered excellent general training for everyday situations, they did not adequately address the specific emergency situations that could arise in a crowded exercise facility. The public was becoming more educated about exercise and was demanding highly qualified instructors trained in emergency procedures. I saw a need and started CPR and first-aid training specifically designed to deal with exercise-related emergencies.”

Kozlowski and his instructors, exercise leaders with degrees in kinesiology, pride themselves on making a dry, mundane and technical subject fun. “We get each and every student active and involved—with each other, with the equipment and with the training mannequin,” he says. “We do stand-up comedy routines like David Letterman, Jay Leno and Robin Williams and [compare ourselves] to famous look-alikes, such as Richard Simmons and Art Garfunkel.”

What’s the Kozlowski secret to success? “The fun training helps make retention under the severe emotional and psychological stress imposed by an emergency situation easier to handle,” he says. “Plus, we emphasize a realistic ‘hands-on’ approach using simplified acronyms and visualization,” he says. The classes incorporate role-playing activities and “simple, effective memory terms to enhance retention. Everything is taught in groups of three or has an interesting name such as ‘Pump and Blow’ and ‘Boinga-Boinga-Boinga.’ We also use ‘Anatomic Annies’ to demonstrate the anatomic and physiologic effects of CPR, as well as theatrical stage make-up in first-aid programs to recreate exciting, dramatic and realistic casualty scenarios.”

People Helping People

Some people compare Kozlowski to fitness legend Richard Simmons. “I’m flattered by the comparison,” he laughs. “There is a definite physical resemblance—curly hair and all. And we have similar ways of making our students feel comfortable: both of us care about each of our students, and we never forget a name or a face!”

Why do Kozlowski’s students enjoy his classes so much? “Life Consultants offers CPR and first-aid courses that are straightforward, nonintimidating, informative and fun,” notes a satisfied client from FitCity Sports Corporation in Richmond, British Columbia. “We are consistently impressed with their level of experience in both the fitness industry and the medical field; their nonthreatening approach to an otherwise intimidating subject; and their ability to help their students remember the fundamentals of first-aid procedures,” continues the client.

While the participants certainly benefit on a professional level, some even benefit from a personal standpoint. “I should have been a matchmaker,” Kozlowski says. “[For example,] my wife and kids were walking home from a BC Lions’ football game in Vancouver, and ran into two of my students who are actually now engaged! They both work at the same club and first met in one of my classes when I paired them up for a choking role-playing scenario. Obviously, he choked over her!”

All joking aside, Kozlowski’s dedication to helping people is serious business. “The objective of our training is to provide our students and our clients (the clubs who hire us to train or recertify their staff) with the knowledge and the skills to effectively deal with exercise-related emergencies wherever and whenever they might occur—in or outside the club.”

Kozlowski loves the work he has been doing since 1988. “My greatest reward in teaching thousands of students over the past 20 years can best be summarized by the fact that we still have students returning for recertification after 20 years of taking courses with the same instructor (me!),” he says. “They remind me that they remember what I have tried to teach them. Most important, whenever they have dealt with an incident, they have taken the time to call me, recount their experience and say, “I was scared, but I remembered what you taught me—and it worked!” n

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April Durrett

IDEA Author/Presenter
April Durrett is a contributing editor for IDEA Fitness Journal.
September 2008

© 2008 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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