May 26, 2023

IVFB Equips Staff with Lifesaving CPR and AED Training for Community Emergencies

IMPERIAL – In an effort to enhance emergency response capabilities in the community, the Imperial Valley Food Bank provided comprehensive CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) training to its staff members inside the organization’s Community Room facility on Friday, May 26th.

“This proactive measure equips our team with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively respond to life-threatening situations and provide immediate assistance until professional medical help arrives,” said Sara Griffen, Executive Director for the foodbank.

Along with providing first responder training to staff, the food bank has also invested in two AED machines, a portable device used to treat people suffering from immediate heart related health issues.

An AED machine will be kept inside the facility’s warehouse, while the second machine will remain mobile to travel with the food bank’s staff inside their refrigerated transportation truck used for mobile food distributions. This investment allows the food bank to provide immediate access to lifesaving equipment at both the food bank and while operating 14 mobile food pantries throughout Imperial County each month.

“The more that people know about CPR and first responder training skills in the community, this will increase the likelihood of someone taking action to provide those lifesaving skills,” explained Rich DeRose, founder of HeartVantages, the nonprofit organization that conducted the CPR, AED, and first aid training to the IVFB staff.

HeartVantages is an approved American Heart Association training site based in Palm Desert. The organization utilizes innovative on-line instruction with a customized hands-on skills training session for students and employees in small to large businesses.

“Everyone needs to be trained because something may not happen at your workplace, it may happen at the grocery store or in your own home, emergencies are not really business industry specific,” said Shannon Shea, HeartVantages representative. “Everybody should have the training.”

The training skills and equipment is significant for the staff to know before the hot summer months, especially since the IVFB serves 25,000 people each month at over 30 locations.

“We have had at least two clients at our food distributions this year suffer from health issues that required us to call for medical assistance,” shared Alba Sanchez, Director of Programs for the food bank. “Different situations have happened in the past… an older client has tripped and fallen, another had forgotten to take their health medication that morning, while others have overheated.”

Although medical emergencies are far from common during mobile food pantries, Sanchez explained how the training and equipment will help to address the unique challenges faced by clients living in regions of the county where professional medical help can be limited and response times may extend up to 45 minutes.

“We’ve always cared for our clients and now we are trained to provide essential emergency care until the professionals arrive,” Sanchez said. “We hope to foster a positive impact on the overall safety and resilience of the communities we serve.”