Party breathes new life into CPR certification

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:36 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Kraatzes had all the right things for a great party — drinks, dinner, a movie and even carpeted seating for their guests of honor, CPR mannequins Little Anne and Baby Anne.

Jim and Elizabeth Kraatz, both professors at MU, held the first CPR party in Boone County Tuesday night, allowing friends to leave their home with a different kind of party favor — CPR certification. The Kraatzes’ guests were instructed and certified in infant and child CPR by trainers from the Boone County chapter of the American Red Cross, who came equipped with all of its typical classroom gear. The party certified eight people.

Elizabeth Kraatz is expecting her first child, a girl, on May 15 and still gets around well. She said she already has the nursery done and the name picked out, but they won’t tell anyone until she’s born. Jim Kraatz said his wife’s pregnancy was the motivation behind hosting the party.

“An acquaintance volunteered to baby-sit, and in the context of the conversation, we said we had to figure out a way to get you certified,” Jim said. “It just kind of snowballed from there.”

Guests included nurses, new parents, potential babysitters and even several children. The Red Cross’ minimum age for certification is 12, but that didn’t stop a 7-year-old from practicing.

“I’m surprised at how well she’s doing,” said Jutta Hopkins, the executive director of the Boone County chapter of the Red Cross. “This exposure will be great for her later.”

One of the certified guests was Nolan Muench, the 11-year-old son of a guest. Nolan turns 12 on May 24.

“For all practical purposes, he’s 12,” Hopkins said.

Before the training began, Elizabeth Kraatz introduced everyone, and two nurses in the corner discussed the need for the training, especially because they work in hospitals. One nurse said she’s heard a “code blue” call to the cafeteria before, which shows an emergency can happen at any time in any place. Kraatz agreed and, despite already being certified, said she can never have too many refreshers. Red Cross CPR certification must be renewed once a year.

The CPR training program at the party was video-based, so guests kicked back with dinner while they watched. The movie portion of the training was broken up with practice on partners for the recovery position and CPR practice on the mannequins.

“You’re out of luck with me,” one guest exclaimed while trying to roll another into the correct position on the floor. Everyone responded with laughter.

CPR trainees are tested through a written exam and a skills test. They must pass each section of the written test with a score of 80 percent. One of the skills they are tested on is how to take off their gloves without touching the outside. The instructor told the operating-room nurse present that she “better pass.”

Jim Kraatz said he was pleased with the relaxed environment of the training. Kraatz teaches advanced life support to physicians in a more formal classroom setting as an associate professor of surgery.

“This setting attracts people that wouldn’t normally seek training and puts people at ease,” he said.

Hopkins said her chapter was waiting to see how Tuesday’s party went to decide whether it should plan more. Some of her initial concerns include instructor availability and making sure the trainees still learn well, despite the relaxed environment. She said the Red Cross’ certification requirements are the same across all ages and all programs.

“We’re going to try and learn from this and see how it works,” Hopkins said. “If it works well, we’re looking into putting together a plan for having more.”

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