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Would you be able to react in an instant?

Everyone should take a first-aid course.

That’s the message of Odren Polk, an AmeriCorps volunteer, and we couldn’t agree more.

Polk remained calm one day not so long ago when a first-grader at Stevens Primary School began to choke on a tomato.

“Mr. O,” as the youngsters call him, was able to quickly dislodge the food on which young Kenyon Ritter was choking.

We do not want to ponder what may have happened had Polk not been there in that instant. Would others in the school cafeteria have had the same instincts and knowledge to help the lad? Possibly. The Williamsport Area School District of which Stevens is a part offers first-aid and CPR training to all employees on a voluntary basis every three years, but it is not required. Clearly, it’s valuable, not just in the school setting but the home and elsewhere.

“I didn’t even think about it. It was just automatic,” Polk said, recalling the incident, adding he did not consider his action to be extraordinary.

We wish that were the case, that every able-bodied adult would commit to taking a first-aid course and be so confidant in their abilities that it becomes second nature. We wish more people had the same skills.

Are you looking to learn something new in the months ahead? The North Central PA Chapter of the American Red Cross offers courses in CPR, first aid and AED training, among other areas.

Today’s a good day to look into taking a class.

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