After hearing about an employee of one his father’s business partners dying from a heart attack on a job site, Bill Culley said he didn’t want to have to go through the same experience within his own company.
Although no measure can prevent such occurrences, Culley figured he could at least get his staff prepared for such a situation.
Culley, president and CEO of Innovative Electric in Lompoc, hired a certified instructor, approved by the American Heart Association, to lead a class in CPR and emergency response for all of his employees. Five of the company’s seven employees attended the Saturday morning session, along with Culley.
“I thought it would be a good idea to train all of them in case they need it, so they’ll know what to do, who to call and how to handle the situation,” he said.
“I’m getting up there myself, so it was a little insurance for me, too,” he added.
The six-hour class, which focused on CPR, first aid and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), was led by Ellery Conover, owner and lead instructor of Star CPR in San Luis Obispo.
Conover said he typically gives a class every three to four days to construction companies and medical offices, among other businesses, but he said it is rare to see an employer offer a course for his or her employees without being required to do so.
“Unfortunately I don’t get many of these cases,” he said. “I wish I got more.”
Culley said he considered the course to be “the right thing to do” for both himself and his employees, and not just for reasons related to work.
Conover said his No. 1 goal with the courses is to make sure everyone who receives the training is “competent and 100 percent confident when they leave.”
Culley pointed out that he’s already felt the effects of the Feb. 8 course in his personal life. He was fully prepared to take action if needed, he said, during a recent dinner at a restaurant, noting that he would have been unable to provide much assistance before the training.
“It’s cool to have that confidence,” he said.
One of Conover’s largest areas of focus is on AEDs. Defibrillators, he noted, are needed about 50 percent of the time with adults who need resuscitation, but many adults don’t know where to find them or how to use them.
To help with the former point, Conover developed an “AED Finder” app that is available in the iTunes store. The app uses GPS to show the nearest defibrillators to the user’s location and provides phone numbers to assist with acquiring each AED.
Most of the app’s information is geared to SLO County, but Conover said he is actively expanding its Santa Barbara County data.
“When I was teaching, most people said they hadn’t had any training with AEDs and would ask, ‘Where do I find an AED?’” he said of the inspiration for the app, which is still being developed for Android devices via the Google Play store.
Culley was one of those people who was unfamiliar with AEDs.
“In an ordinary situation, I’d have never thought to do that,” he said of finding a defibrillator. “Hopefully if I’m ever in that situation, this (training) will come in handy.”
The course was just the latest safety initiative undertaken by Culley. He said he has offered free smoke-detector checks and battery replacements, mainly to seniors and disabled citizens, for years.
“They’re just things that I do to try to give back to this community,” he said.
After wrapping up the course, Conover said that Culley told him he would like to make the training an annual event.
“I thought that was great,” Conover said. “He actually wants them to retain this information.”
Conover’s course at Innovative Electric didn’t cover issues related to infants and small babies. For further instruction in those areas, he invited the employees to sit in on his other classes when space is available.
“It makes it a safer world for everyone,” he said of the training. “If I go into cardiac arrest, it could be one of my students who saves my life. I wish more people were proactive.”