ADA — When she signed up for the Red Cross Babysitter’s Training course, Emily had no idea she would use her new skills to save her three-year-old brother’s life. While babysitting Alex early this year, Emily left him to go to the kitchen. She returned moments later and found him choking on a piece of candy.

“I heard a wheezing sound and saw Alex with his hands by his throat,” says Emily. “I immediately performed abdominal thrusts, but it didn’t work. I grabbed the phone and called 9-1-1.”

While on the phone with emergency responders, Emily administered abdominal thrusts again, this time, successfully dislodging candy from Alex’s throat.  

“I can’t explain how I felt when I answered my cell phone and a man identifying himself as an Auburn police officer said he was at my home,” says Carrie Matsel, Emily’s mother. “The officer said that the dispatcher commented on what a great job she had done and how calm she was on the phone with him.”

For the Indiana-based Jackson family, Emily’s presence of mind made the difference between life and death. “I was just glad I knew what to do,” says Emily.  

The American Red Cross trains thousands of people like Emily to be responsible babysitters. The training gives young adults the skills to take on the responsibilities of the job and the training they need to act in an emergency. The training not only offers valuable skills to youth looking for jobs, but also provides peace of mind to parents who want to feel confident their children are in the care of a competent babysitter.

The program teaches 11 to 15-year-olds how to care for an infant, feed children of all ages, distinguish between life-threatening and less serious emergencies, and even interview perspective employers.

“Prospective babysitters learn to practice a trade as an independent business person with a much desired and needed skill, caring for the children of our community,” says Elaine Rhynes, Red Cross instructor and Pontotoc County branch manager. “Babysitters learn to develop activities related to each specific families needs and cultural preferences.”

Rhynes, a Red Cross-certified instructor, will teach a two day boot camp for Babysitters on Wednesday, Dec. 26 and Thursday, Dec. 27 at the Pontotoc County Red Cross Branch Office located at 704 N. Oak Avenue, Suite 16. The cost of the two day boot camp is $60 for each participant. The lessons include first aid and basic care skills (CPR for infants and children as well as first aid). Decision-making aptitude and solutions for real-life problems are addressed, and students are taught to deal with common problems like bedtime issues, misbehaving children, and what to do when a stranger calls.

Help your children hone their babysitting skills by taking the Red Cross Babysitter’s Boot Camp course. Call (580) 332-2402 or e-mail erhynes@arcok.org to serve your place at the babysitters boot camp.

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