After unsuccessfully performing CPR on her mother, Ruby Saenz was afraid of becoming an instructor.
But after talking to the doctors who tried to treat her mother, who had a massive heart attack, and learning that she did everything right, Ms. Saenz eventually overcame her grief. She has since become passionate about teaching CPR and First Aid to others.
“Don’t ever be afraid to attempt to save somebody’s life,” she said. “It’s not always a stranger you might have to perform CPR on.”
Ms. Saenz works as a Smith County Juvenile Services detention officer and has been a CPR instructor for 11 years. She not only trains other detention officers in her department, but staff at nursing homes and daycares. She estimates that she has taught life-saving measures to more than 100 people.
This year, Ms. Saenz has added a new group of classes to her roster. She and Toscha Sneed have been spreading their knowledge to Smith County co-workers by teaching CPR and First Aid to people working in nearly every department.
Ms. Sneed, a juvenile probation officer, has worked for Juvenile Services for 15 years and has been a CPR/First Aid instructor for five years. She trains detention and probation officers at Juvenile Services. About 60 to 70 officers at Juvenile Services have to be certified every two years, she said.
Ms. Sneed did not want to be an instructor at first, but now enjoys training others.
Pre-Trial Services Director Gary Pinkerton came up with the idea to have the two women train other Smith County employees. During a Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee meeting, a discussion was held about what types of employee trainings could be offered. Pinkerton said a lot of people don’t know basic first aid, such as how to help a choking co-worker in the break room or if someone collapses in the lobby, and often people will panic in an emergency situation.
His hope was to have at least one employee in each county department learn CPR and First Aid so they would be able to help a co-worker or member of the public if an emergency arose.
Pinkerton learned that the Smith County Juvenile Services Office had certified CPR/First Aid instructors, and having them lead the classes for county employees would save the county money. The classes were opened up to all departments, and about 30 employees from seven departments attended four classes.
Taking these classes empowers us,” Pinkerton said. “Now, if someone is sick, there are employees that can render aid, and perform CPR or some other life-saving measure until EMS arrives.”
Pinkerton said he was pleased with the attendance and plans to offer one more class this year.
Ms. Saenz and Ms. Sneed said each class starts out kind of quiet, with some people afraid to learn the life-saving techniques. They try to make the classes fun so people open up and have a good time. Ms. Saenz also shares her story about her mother to help others.
The classes taught to Smith County employees included CPR, how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), how to help someone who is choking and other First Aid techniques and tips.