Despite the American Red Cross being in the process of selling its building in Parsons, local instructors are still available to those seeking needed Red Cross certifications.

In 2010, the American Red Cross went to a central system for doing health and safety classes and went to universal pricing, with signing up online the only option.

“The pricing for us in Labette County — the new system doubled it,” licensed Red Cross instructor Jonathan Tower said. “Over time, we weren’t getting the people we once were, so they came up with the option of their being licensed trained providers. Basically, the license allows an individual to teach Red Cross classes.”

The licensed trainer can determine when and where classes will be held and how much they will charge.

“The thing is, you are responsible for your own materials and liability insurance, teaching facility, as well as tools and class materials and turning in all billing and data (logging in courses and course completers) because it is no longer handled by the Red Cross,” he said.

To keep classes as affordable as possible for area residents, Tower pursued that option, incorporating and forming an LLC.

“I was one of the first to go through the process. I started teaching in that direction in about 2011,” he said. “I keep the costs for CPR  (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and first aide classes at about what they were originally, $25 for CPR and $35 for the combo of first aide and CPR. That is much less than the national costs.”

Tower said he does not charge to make a profit, only to cover the costs of liability insurance, material fees and other fees.

“I’m not doing it as a business by any measure,” he said. “I just wanted to ensure we didn’t loose the ability to teach people in the area.”

In the process of the change to individual trainers being responsible for all ordering of materials, record keeping, etc., the number of instructors dropped to about four.

“In 2009 it was over 15,” Tower said. “A lot who taught were only teaching a couple of courses a year, so it wasn’t worth the hassle to them to keep going.”

Of the four remaining, two only teach those at their place of business, such as the instructor at the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center.

Tower said he acts as the administrator for all of them, handling the submission of data and ordering of materials, but only he and one other person are training the public right now.

“For all the CPR and first aide, bloodborne pathogens and cardiovascular life support for health care providers, that all is covered by me. Everything but the aquatics,” Tower said. “Aquatics for our area is being handled by Karen McGowen. Karen has been teaching aquatics a long time. She works out of the CORE (at Labette Health) and teaches life guarding and life guarding recertification for pools. She can be reached at 820-5909 to sign up. The CORE also does swimming classes.”

Tower has been teaching for 37 years.

He presently teaches CPR and first aide the first Saturday of every month in Parsons. Until the Red Cross building sells, he is still able to use it for classes. Once it is sold, he will have to find another place to offer the classes.

For the last year, he has also been teaching the last Saturday of every month in Coffeyville.

During the weeks, by appointment, he teaches classes on site at businesses and industries.

“I’ll teach for anybody anywhere,” he said, noting he has even traveled to teach the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department in Sedan twice. “They just have to provide you a room to do it.”

He has also taught nursing home employees, groups of day care providers from as far as Fort Scott and Girard.

“I also offer AED (automated external defibrillator) familiarization class. It is not a class, and I don’t charge, but I’m willing to go out and give a talk on how it is used,“ Tower said.

His one requirement for all his courses are that there be at least two people per session, though he said he will make an exception if someone is needing the CPR/first aide training last minute to start practicums or to avoid losing a job if certification lapses.

Tower said he is still teaching disaster courses, too, though they have been on hold for a year.

“Right now I am just trying to figure a time for shelter classes. Any shelter has designated people that open the shelter initially until we get there, so we are better equipped to handle emergencies when we arrive. The disaster courses are always free. I am slowly trying to get those back up and into play,” he said.

Anyone wanting to contact Tower regarding any of the training or certification classes can call 820-9404 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“Do not call the Red Cross. It is not manned, and I usually only get over there about once a week to check messages,” Tower said.

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