Hoping for the best is not preparedness.
Are you ready for an emergency? Many of us aren’t, but there’s expert help for that right here in town: The Morgantown business THE CPR GALS helps residents and businesses be prepared to turn worst-case scenarios into best possible outcomes.
Let’s face it: Bad things do happen. Ignoring this fact and hoping for the best is not an effective way to prepare for potential situations or disasters. Education, training, and planning allow us to respond in a way that mitigates the damage. Knowing what to do in the key early moments of an emergency situation saves lives.
THE CPR GALS offers a variety of classes designed to fit clients’ needs when it comes to CPR, first aid, and disaster preparedness.
We spoke with Jeanie Edwards, the founder of THE CPR GALS. Edwards’ career of giving back and educating her community on health issues began over four decades ago in Pasadena, California. She is a health and safety instructor, an EMT, and a national disaster responder, and she worked with the LA County Sheriff’s Department in disaster communications. Here’s what she had to say.
Q: What initiated your move from California to West Virginia?
Jeanie Edwards: My best friend of 40 years had moved to Morgantown in 2014 with her husband, and she encouraged me to come to West Virginia. Living in Morgantown, I feel like I am in “old” Pasadena. Folks are friendly, they talk to everyone, my neighbors are absolutely amazing, and I am very happy I am here.
I am at a point that I could retire, but my passion for getting everyone prepared
to deal with a medical emergency and/or a disaster is in my blood. Unexpected situations happen every day for which folks are not prepared. I have the knowledge and experience to help them mitigate so many factors so they can get better outcomes when things do happen.
Q: How are the needs here in West Virginia different from what you experienced in California? How are they the same?
JE: The biggest difference between being in a large city and a rural area is time and resources.
In bigger cities, everything is close by and generally readily available. In a rural area, that is not the case.
The resources here—law enforcement, fire and rescue—are also often volunteer personnel.
They are all well-trained, but they are scattered, living their real lives. When a call for help does go out, it takes longer for them to arrive at an event, so people need to know what needs to be done and be able to do it until help arrives.
Q: They say the first hour after an incident or accident is critical. Can you expand on that?
JE: The “golden hour” is the term often used in trauma or emergency care to suggest that an injured or sick person must receive definitive treatment within the first 60 minutes from the time of injury or appearance of symptoms. It is believed that once this time has lapsed, the risk of death or long-term complications will significantly increase.
Q: You offer a wide range of classes and training. Which classes or training are most important for residents here to take?
JE: In a sense, most of it. Getting prepared for a disaster or medical emergency and knowing what signs to notice to set off that awareness switch can often help prevent an emergency or disaster. In a disaster-type situation, people can get ill or injured, and that is why first aid training is important.
THE CPR GALS teaches classes that can help in many areas of people’s everyday lives: being around water, hiking, hunting, eating in restaurants, shopping, driving, and many more functions. Basic first aid skills can help with knowing what to do in a medical emergency such as choking, burns, bleeding, hypothermia, major wounds, and heart attacks as well as cardiac arrest—these are two totally different medical issues—and even how to help your pets and newborns.
Our CPR and first aid classes are a great starting point.
Q: You encourage businesses to call about your Disaster Preparedness Solutions class. What percent of businesses have such a plan? If not, why don’t they?
JE: Businesses have more concerns than individuals: They have employees, customers, and assets that all need to be protected. Not many businesses are aware of what could affect them or what can be done to mitigate all the possible consequences. A small number are actually prepared to survive a disaster of any magnitude.
According to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 40% of businesses never reopen after a disaster. Why are they not prepared? Mainly, lack of education and a lot of excuses—no time to think about it, no money to implement changes, or lack of belief that anything bad will happen.