MOUNTAIN AREA — Oakhurst CPR owner Kevin Stafford seems destined to provide service to the public, and he was just a young man still in his teens when the idea of how he would do that began to take form.
Kevin stepped foot into the medical field at just 17 years old, when he took a first responder course in Boot Jack, and was preparing to become involved with a local volunteer fire department.
Plans changed suddenly when Kevin was involved in a serious car accident that put him in a coma and sidelined his earliest dreams. The crash took place on Highway 41 at Avenue 12 in Madera County, back on April 14, 1989, and Kevin was flown via helicopter to a valley hospital.
“I was in a coma for ten days, and all I know is the stories that were told,” says the former EMT-P and now-CPR instrutor. “Being a patient, I remember vaguely the nurses and doctors that I had and the treatment I got was second to none. It was the best and that set me up to continue and pursue the passion that I have for trauma situations. That is what inspired me and put me in a position to pursue the emergency medicine.”
Kevin recovered from the accident with minimal rehab and a small settlement. He became a CPR instructor after paramedic school, and eventually started training personnel employed by firms in the construction industry.
“We started teaching and realized it was profitable. Within six months to a year, we had a full time training center. For a lot of construction projects, it is part of Cal/OSHA safety regulations that a reasonable number of employees must be certified in CPR and first aid, at all times,” Kevin explains.
He continued to specialized in the relatively lucrative building industry and became a construction safety consultant in his early 20s and then went back to school, obtaining a bachelors occupational safety and health. He eventually settled in Orange County.
Kevin says he’ll always be involved in that end of the industry to some degree, whether in training, as a consultant, or by giving expert testimony.
As time passed, Kevin found himself longing for a different focus when it came to career and how he spends his time, and he decided to make some changes. Kevin’s dad had Parkinson’s, and he helped his mother care for him until the end. With family including his mother and sister in Coarsegold and Bass Lake, Kevin returned to the foothills.
“It had been in the back of my mind to open a training center here and provide training to the mountain community,” he notes.
“There is a need for the community to be prepared and aware of how to treat somebody who is in cardiac arrest or needs first aid, and it’s important that family members and friends know how to prolong life, if necessary, before first responders can get there.”
Oakhurst CPR classes include standard first aid and CPR classes for treating adults, children and infants, as well as training in use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED ). In addition to his own instruction for classes, Kevin has instructors, as well.
Other classes offered include Pediatric First Aid and Pediatric Advanced Life Support to provide the sort of training required for licensing day care centers. CPR also offers Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Wilderness First Aid.
People who need or want instruction are paramedics, laborers, nonprofit organizations, tree contractors, camps counselors, restaurant staff and more, says Kevin, up to and including some law firms. Oakhurst CPR is an authorized training center and they are instructors for the American Safety and Health Institute (ASHI), Medic First Aid and the American Heart Association.
“It’s a broad service that is needed and we provide services throughout the different professions. Classes are held at Denny’s Restaurant in Oakhurst, or people can arrange special times for training and we are mobile.”
Initial classes are five to six hours, Kevin explains, and those in attendance can expect to learn how to save a life doing CPR, and by learning different signs and symptoms of heart attacks and cardiac arrest. Classes, he says, are low-key and fun.
“I had classes recently of eight and nine-year-olds, and when it came time to test, they answered every question accurately. We have done programs for Boy Scouts, by customizing a special two-hour class for their merit badge. The best part is when children and adults are really engaging in the class, with questions and concerns and thoughts. People are almost never too young to be made aware of these procedures, and are certainly never too old.”
The CPR process is not complex, he says. It boils down to what a friend says: push hard, push fast.
“The bottom line when something happens, and hopefully you have people there with you, is you do chest compression and then you’re relieved by someone else who knows how to do it, and this is what you do until medics get there.”
Four years ago, Kevin decided he wanted to return to emergency medicine and, specifically, partake in the RN program.
“I am preparing to start the program and get my RN license and get back into the medical field. I am following my passion, following my heart, so it’s currently my goal to complete the nursing program, and pursue emergency medicine.”
Meanwhile, he continues to share what he knows with as many people and groups as possible, through Oakhurst CPR.
“It is a passion. I don’t care about cards and experience, I am just the messenger and I enjoy sharing and teaching the message. I have had people who I trained call me after they have done lifesaving CPR and I am very humbled. I just look up and I say ‘thank you.’ Joy! If it can save one life in my lifetime, my job is done. I can talk all day about why it is important, but the outcome is that this is what I am called to do.”
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