(Update: Adding video, details)
Community classes held in fire station had been stopped due to COVID-19
PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Crook County Fire and Rescue has opened up a new CPR training space for community classes, which also houses the agency's new fire museum.
Community CPR classes were previously held inside the fire station, but COVID-19 put that to a halt.
“We had to shut down the fire stations to public access, for the protection of firefighters and first responders,” Deputy Chief Dave Pickhardt said Thursday. “We found ourselves without a place for public meetings, or more importantly, CPR training.”
Ray Austin, a CPR instructor and CCF&R volunteer, said it was important to continue providing CPR classes for people who need to renew their certification or get a CPR card.
“Folks need to have those cards for work,” Austin said. “Whether they’re doctors, nurses, work at a dentist’s office, county workers, police or firefighters.”
On behalf of Country Financial and its Operation Helping Heroes program, Austin presented Chief Pickhardt with a $2,500 donation, to help CCF&R purchase equipment for a new CPR training space.
“As an instructor, not being able to provide those classes in the fire station brought me some concern,” Austin said.
With help from the donation, the fire department decided to restart CPR classes in the Prineville Fire Company No. 1 Annex, which also houses the new Crook County Fire Museum.
Austin said the classes now will be held with groups of no more than six people at a time.
“Prior to COVID, people came in to see the antique fire engines,” Chief Pickhardt said. “This building still has the ability to be a public access meeting room, if we take the necessary precautions.”
The funds will be used to buy equipment needed for the classes, including audio-visual equipment, kneeling mats, tables and chairs.
Chief Pickhardt said CCF&R covers 3,000 square miles and supports a community of over 19,000 residents, with more than half living outside the Prineville city limits.
“Do we have instances where civilians have performed CPR training?” he said. “ Yes, we have. So if that training exists, then the positive benefit to the victim is much higher.”
Fire officials said in Crook County, there has been an average of six times a year when a civilian needed to perform CPR on a patient before crews arrived.
Pickhardt said many people have had to delay getting or renewing their CPR certification, and with the new space, they are able to provide classes that meet that need.
He said because the classes share the same space as the museum’s artifacts, staff will reorganize the room as needed.
The Operation Helping Heroes program was created in 2015 to support non-profit events and programs that benefit active duty service members, veterans and their families. In 2019, COUNTRY Financial expanded the program and donated $700,000 to about 500 first responder and military organizations.