Ohio FD to teach CPR to Spanish-speaking church goers

Medics work with youth-ministry staff to provide simultaneous translation of course content and participant questions

By Eric Robinette

HAMILTON, Ohio — For the first time, the Fairfield fire department will offer a CPR class in Spanish, at the request of a local church with a large Hispanic congregation.

“We were actually approached by the Fairfield Church of the Nazarene … they were inquiring because they have several of their youth ministry personnel that they wanted to get certified in CPR, but most of them only speak Spanish,” said Lt. Jamie Viers, the program coordinator for the fire department.

After discovering the American Safety and Health Institute did offer a Spanish course, “I talked with Chief (Don) Bennett about the costs associated with it, and the logistics, and he said, absolutely, let’s do it,” Viers said. The cost to the department will be about $200, he said.

The course will be offered at 11 a.m. June 20 at the fire station at 6540 Dixie Highway, and will help fill a void in the community, Viers said.

“We knew that there was a deficiency with being able to provide this service outside of our normal (channels). As far as my personal knowledge is, we don’t have anybody that is bilingual on the fire department,” Viers said.

The church has found a way around that problem.

“They are a mainly Spanish-speaking congregation, but they also have English speaking as well. So what they have invested in is a headset. Everybody wears one, and the (speaker) talks into a microphone, and it’s instantly translated to the other language through an earpiece … that’s going to allow our instructor to break that barrier to speak in perfectly fine English, and they’re going to hear it translated in Spanish,” the lieutenant said.

If a Spanish speaker has a question for the instructor, an interpreter will be on hand to translate Spanish into English, he explained.

The course helps the department meet the needs of an expanding Hispanic population. In the 2000 U.S. census, there were 4,771 Hispanics in Butler County. In the 2010 census, that number had more than tripled to 14,670. In Fairfield alone, the Hispanic population went from only 646 in 2000 to 2,357 in the 2010 census.

Viers said that paramedics run into language barriers “fairly often” on their runs. They carry a translation book with them that helps them communicate, “but it’s still problematic trying to get the relevant information we need to treat them successfully. Most of the time, family members or other bystanders who are bilingual will help us,” he said.

Given the demand, the department plans to offer the course again.

“We’re going to do this first class, and we’re already thinking about two other classes just with this church group,” Viers said.

For more information about the course, call 513-858-8306.


©2015 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

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