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posted: 8/10/2012 11:52 AM

Des Plaines to offer free CPR/AED training for residents

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The Des Plaines Fire Department will offer free cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator use training to residents who want a basic knowledge of these lifesaving techniques.

Currently, the city charges $50 for CPR and AED training classes for both residents and nonresidents. Participants earn a two-year certification from the American Heart Association. That program requires participants to take a refresher class after two years for recertification.

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The city conducted 31 CPR/AED classes training 226 people from January 2010 through June 2012. Roughly 54 percent of students were Des Plaines residents in the classes that were tracked.

The city will continue to offer those classes for the same fee to anyone wanting to get certified for professional reasons, Fire Chief Alan Wax said.

Several aldermen at Monday night's city council meeting pushed for offering free informational life-safety training for "friends and family" -- a program offered by the American Heart Association -- so they could be more prepared for emergencies. Aldermen rejected Wax's idea of charging a $15 registration fee to cover the cost of the instructor and to ensure resident participation in the class.

"We are looking to get average people trained," 6th Ward Alderman Mark Walsten said. He added, that he also needed a refresher on CPR.

Des Plaines 4th Ward Alderman Dick Sayad said the cost of offering free training to residents is nominal. He added, if the fire department is concerned about cost officials should consider getting rid of the chrome wheels on fire trucks and purchase regular wheels instead.

Wax said the cost of conducting four classes during the year would amount to roughly $2,500.

Des Plaines 7th Ward Alderman Dan Wilson opposed the idea of the city paying for residents' classes.

"We should be fixing streets," he said.

Ultimately, the council voted 6-1 in favor of offering the free classes with no certification for residents only. Wilson was the lone dissenter.

Classes will be held in April and October.

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