On the social scene: parties with CPR lessons

As a firefighter, Brent Grein constantly sees the need to train people in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, especially parents of young children.

KITCHENER, Ont. — As a firefighter, Brent Grein constantly sees the need to train people in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, especially parents of young children.

“In almost eight years as a firefighter, I have only twice witnessed CPR in progress,” says Grein, 34, of Kitchener, Ont.

Too few parents know CPR, and valuable time to save a life is lost as they wait for emergency workers to arrive, he says.

That’s why earlier this year Grein started providing in-home CPR parties to increase the number of people trained in the techniques needed to revive a person whose heart has stopped.

“It is like a Tupperware party, but a firefighter comes into your home and teaches you these life-saving skills,” he says.

Grein, whose goal is to get as many people trained in CPR as possible, says that two weeks after taking his course, one mother saved her daughter who was choking on a peach.

His company, First Aid Force, already provides CPR training to employees of 75 companies, mostly in Waterloo Region. The CPR parties are a natural extension of that business, launched in 2003, says the father of two young children.

Time and cost are the main reasons parents give when asked why they haven’t taken CPR training, says Grein, who offers two types of CPR parties.

One is a five-hour, full-certification course usually offered on weekends, costing $50 per person.

The second is a two-hour course offered on weeknights, in which participants learn the skills but are not certified in CPR. The cost is $25 per person.

In both cases, the host of the party gets the training for free if they sign up eight other people.

The minimum course size is six participants.

Since launching these parties last winter, business has grown so fast that Grein is looking at hiring instructors next year to assist him.

He does up to eight parties a month and has already taught hundreds of parents.

“In-home CPR parties have taken on a life of their own. It has snowballed.”

Brain damage begins after just four minutes without oxygen, he explains. And for every minute that goes by without defibrillation to restart the heart’s pumping action, a person in cardiac arrest has a 10 per cent lower chance of surviving.

Defibrillation is the application of an electric shock to the heart and is usually done in conjunction with CPR.

“The difference between life and death for a person is CPR,” stresses Grein.