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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


CPR instructors critical to health care

By Susan Poizner
Special to The Toronto Sun

It can happen anywhere, at any time. But what do you do if there's a medical emergency in your home, office or on the street? November is CPR Awareness month, and it's a perfect time for us to remember that a few hours of basic first aid training can help save lives.
CPR trainer Lisa Mills, above in white shirt, works as a CPR trainer at Lifesaver 101, the only CPR walk-in clinic in Canada. She helps train many health-care professionals in CPR, but also fire fighters, police officers, paramedics and more.

It's also a good time to take our hats off to the thousands of people in Ontario who have taken it upon themselves to become CPR trainers, giving health-care workers, firefighters, police officers and others the knowledge they need to deal with such emergencies.

One of those trainers is Lisa Mills who works at LifeSaver 101, Toronto's only walk-in CPR training centre where anyone -- including doctors, nurses, personal trainers, babysitters and others can join weekly scheduled group training courses.

"This is the only CPR walk-in clinic in Canada. So every week on a Tuesday night anyone can walk into our facilities and leave with a CPR certification. Often they need this for their jobs, if they find their certification has expired."

Located at 415 Bloor St. W. near Spadina Road, LifeSaver 101 has courses for all levels, lasting from three hours to two days.

Mill's first contact with the clinic was as a student -- she was a lifeguard who needed to renew her CPR certification.

"I came as a student. I walked into the course and thought, 'I'm a lifeguard. I've taken many courses. They're always so boring. But I loved this course. I learned so many things that I had never understood properly in previous courses."

She spoke to Chris Riedesser, the man who opened the clinic. He trained her to be a CPR trainer, and now she works for LifeSaver 101 full time, teaching the Tuesday night course and conducting other courses at workplaces around the city.

"It's a really fun program. We don't want to make people memorize a series of steps -- we want them to understand what they're doing so they don't have to remember. We make sure with everything that we answer the question 'Why?'" she says.

Terry Coote, senior manager of professional education at the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation, says there is a network of 5,000 CPR instructors like Mills in the province -- but few of them work in the field full time.
CPR trainer Lisa Mills

"Many of them are health-care professionals, though there are also firefighters, policemen, paramedics and others who take our courses to become CPR trainers and then go back to their workplaces and hospitals to teach other staff," he says.

The Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation offers a range of courses for people who want to become registered CPR trainers. In addition to the basic cardiac life support courses, there are neonatal and pediatric programs. Most can be completed over a weekend.

Riedesser established the LifeSaver 101 after he returned from a trip to Mexico where he saw a little boy drowning in the swimming pool of his hotel. Someone dragged the boy out of the water and pointed to Chris, telling him to do something.

"He remembered stuff he had seen on TV, breathing and pumping the chest and tried to do what he could. Eleven minutes later, the child coughed up some water and survived," Mills says.

"Halfway through our course, Riedesser tells this story and explains that participants already have 10 times the knowledge he had then -- and he was able to save someone. It's really simple to do and it can actually make a difference."

LifeSaver 101 is offering courses for people who want to be CPR trainers on Nov. 15 and 16. For more information, visit www.lifesaver101. You can also visit

(Reach freelancer Susan Poizner at (

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