Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in red and white wall cabinet

AED’s: We Can Save More Lives With Easy Access and Training

Why people need to support PAD (Public Access Defibrillation) programs in our communities.


Your head hits the cold sidewalk with a sickening thud, and thoughts flash briefly across your mind,

Am I dying?

Will somebody save me?

It’s a cold winter morning. You’re on your way to work feeling nervous, shaky and slightly nauseous. While crossing the car park towards the office entrance, your sense of impending doom increases.

At first, you assume it’s just stress about your upcoming presentation. But then you become aware of heavy pressure in your chest and shortness of breath. Dizziness fades to black, and you fall to the ground unconscious.

You’ve experienced a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). What happens next changes the course of your life.

You appear to be watching the scene from above.

A woman in a black jacket kneels beside you and taps your shoulder. “Hey, are you OK?” she asks with concern, but you’re unable to respond. Shaking with stress, she points at a teenage bystander and says,

“You in the blue hoodie, call 911 and say we’ve got an unconscious person. Ask them to send an ambulance and bring an AED. Do you understand?” The teenager nods and starts making the call.

Rain from the sidewalk seeps into your hair, sending chills down your spine. Cold, scared and unable to communicate, you’re grateful when the teenager slides their folded jacket carefully under your head.

The woman helping you finds you’re not breathing and starts pushing on your chest. You know she’s doing CPR and it’s supposed to help in these situations. Still, it’s uncomfortable having someone pressing hard on your chest. You wonder if she’ll break a rib. The Bee Gees’ tune “Stayin’ Alive” plays quietly in your head as she does her compressions.

A siren announces the arrival of the ambulance. Paramedics quickly assess the scene, check you over, unpack their equipment and connect you to an AED. You remember reading somewhere that an AED or Automated External Defibrillator is a device that delivers an electrical shock to the heart.

“Stand clear!” warns a paramedic, and everyone moves back.


Bright light, a hard jolt, and you feel like you’ve been kicked in the chest by a donkey. Time stops, and then quickly, everything starts to feel better. The pressure on your chest is gone, your body begins to warm up, you are no longer nauseous and shaking.

You can breathe.

Tears fall with the realization someone just saved your life. Without a courageous bystander stepping up to provide CPR, you’d be dead, but now, you’ve been given another chance.

Paramedics load you carefully into the ambulance. The woman in the black jacket squeezes your hand and wishes you well, and the ambulance, siren wailing, makes its way through busy, wet streets to the hospital.

Weeks later, when you’ve fully recovered, you’re having breakfast and reading the news. A Red Cross article tells you that cardiac arrest can occur at any age, without warning, to people of all fitness levels.

There’s nothing like a near-death experience to put things in perspective and reshuffle priorities. A bystander saved your life, and it all started with them calling EMS/911.

You realize if all you do in an emergency is call EMS/911, your actions could save a life. But you want to be able to do more. You register for first aid class and learn how to perform CPR and use an AED. Who knows, maybe you’ll pay it forward, be the hero and save a life one day.

What does CPR do?

CPR buys the casualty time. It helps circulate vital oxygen-rich blood to the heart and brain and increases the length of time a shock from a defibrillator can be effective.

Without bystander CPR, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival fall 7–10 percent for every minute of delay until defibrillation. Resuscitation attempts are unlikely to succeed without CPR and defibrillation within minutes of collapse. Only 1 in 10 survives a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.

The good news is that the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest increases when early CPR is used in combination with an AED in the first few minutes. The American Heart Association states, “Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after cardiac arrest, can double a victim’s chance of survival.”

What is an AED?

On countless medical shows, you’ve seen the doctor apply pads to a patient’s chest, yell, “CLEAR,” and press a button on the machine to deliver a shock. The patient’s back arches dramatically, and they thump down onto the operating table.

An AED is a lightweight, portable computerized device. It can analyze heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock to the heart. The shock can potentially stop an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest.

Through electrodes placed on a patient’s chest, a processor inside the AED detects electrical activity from the heart and analyzes the victim’s heart.

After an AED analyzes the heart rhythm and determines a shock is required, it delivers an electric current to the heart through the victim’s chest wall via adhesive electrode pads. The shock interrupts the chaotic rhythm and allows it to return to normal.

The machine will not shock unless necessary; AEDs are designed to shock only when certain heart rhythms are detected. For example, if the AED detects Ventricular Fibrillation (VF) or Ventricular Tachycardia (VT), it will instruct you to deliver a shock.

What are the different types of heart rhythms?

Ventricular Fibrillation (VF) is where the heart is a quivering, uncoordinated mess. VF on the EKG looks like a squiggly line.

Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) is where the heart is beating too fast. When the heart is in VF or VT is unable to pump blood and oxygen around the body effectively.

Asystole (cardiac flatline) is the absence of electrical activity from the heart. Asystole is the most serious form of cardiac arrest. It is usually irreversible. In this condition, the heart muscle is not contracting and cannot provide blood flow and oxygen to the body. A patient in asystole is unlikely to survive.

Sinus Rhythm is a normal heart rhythm. The heart has a natural pacemaker called the sinoatrial (SA or sinus) node, which is responsible for setting normal heart rhythm.

Who can use AED’s and are they safe?

AED’s are safe, and anyone can use them. It helps if you’ve had training, but many lives are saved every year by people using AED’s. Many of these people have no training — other than what they’ve seen on TV.

Why we need Public Access Defibrillation (PAD)

When the heart stops beating and circulating blood, there’s a window of about 3 minutes before the brain begins to die. After 10 minutes without CPR or AED, a person has almost zero chance of survival.

Although calling EMS/911 is critical in an emergency, we need to take immediate action to help a victim of SCA. If we rely on the ambulance to bring an AED and it’s slow to arrive, the casualty may not survive.

Having an AED onsite gives victims of SCA the best chance of survival until paramedics arrive and take over care.

Wouldn’t it be great if AED’s were more widely available and we all had training on how to use them?

PAD (Public Access Defibrillation) is a movement to make AED’s more readily available in our communities. The PAD program aims to reduce the number of deaths from sudden cardiac arrest in public places.

Where should AEDs be placed?

With PAD, AEDs are installed in areas where the density of people is high, and employees are trained to use them. The more AED’s there are, the better our chances of survival if we suffer an SCA.

All first-response vehicles, including ambulances, law enforcement vehicles and fire trucks, should carry an AED. AEDs should also be available in public areas such as sports arenas, shopping malls, airports, airplanes, businesses, conference centers, hotels, schools and medical offices.

They should also be in any other public or private place where large numbers of people gather or where people at high risk for heart attacks live. They should be situated near elevators, cafeterias, main reception areas, and on walls in main corridors.

Ideally, we’d all have an AED in our workplace, at home and in the trunk of our car. Maybe one day, we’ll have an AED app on our phones.

The future of AED’s

There is an exciting future for defibrillators. AED’s will likely become more widely available as research provides more information about their life-saving role. As with other forms of technology, AED’s will likely decrease in size and weight and contain enhanced communication capabilities.

Imagine this scenario. You’re sitting in your local coffee shop. A person staggers towards you, clutching their chest and collapses unconscious on the ground.

You call EMS/911 and ask for an AED. One minute later, a drone arrives and lands on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop. The drone is carrying an AED. You unstrap the AED, press the ON button, and the AED tells you precisely what to do to save the person’s life. Meanwhile, an ambulance makes its way to your location.

Worldwide, Sudden cardiac death is a major public health problem, accounting for 15–20 % of all deaths. It is the most common cause of death, accounting for 17 million lives lost per year.

Death from sudden cardiac arrest is not inevitable. If we all knew how to do CPR and use an AED, we could save more lives.

AED’s are safe and easy to use, and we need more of them in public areas. The more AED’s and the more people with training, the safer our world will be.

Encourage your employer to install an AED in your workplace. If you haven’t taken a first aid & CPR class recently now would be a good time to learn to save a life.


Opioid Overdose: Four Things We Can Do Today to Stop Senseless Deaths

While experts work on long-term solutions to the opioid epidemic, the rest of us can take action now to save lives.


The world is struggling with two major health emergencies: COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic.

While COVID-19 is constantly in our thoughts, the opioid epidemic may not be top of mind for most. But, for first responders kneeling on cold sidewalks injecting Naloxone into unconscious casualties and parents who’ve just found their teenager dead in bed from an overdose, it’s a devastating reality.

Government health agencies have given us reams of instructions for protecting ourselves from the COVID-19 virus. They’ve not yet, however, provided clear guidelines about preventing death from an overdose. Healthcare professionals are urgently searching for solutions to the opioid crisis. Meanwhile, this article will outline four action steps people can take to start saving lives today.

The overdose epidemic does not discriminate

I have two kids aged 19 and 22. My daughter is a university student living at home, and my son shares an apartment with friends in Vancouver. I worry about them taking risks and getting poisoned by drinks or drugs laced with fentanyl or worse.

My husband and I have done our best to be good parents, teach our kids right from wrong and talk openly about uncomfortable topics like addiction. The overdose epidemic doesn’t discriminate, though, and being a good kid from a good home doesn’t make you immune to death by overdose.

Across the globe, lives are being ruined and lost at alarming rates, and communities large and small are feeling the impacts. According to the latest World Drug Report, an estimated 585,000 people died due to drug use in 2017. Opioids account for more than 70% of drug-related deaths, with more than 30% of those deaths caused by overdose.

Stop the blame game

People love to blame others for bad things that happen in the world. The opioid epidemic is one of the worst disasters of our time, and the internet is full of articles, videos, reports, and TED talks about the whodunit. Theories about what started this global crisis and why it continues include:

  • Massive marketing efforts by large pharmaceutical companies
  • Doctors over-prescribing pain medications
  • Dealers smuggling dirty drugs across borders
  • Lack of support for those with mental health issues
  • Stigma towards people struggling with addiction

Focusing on who’s to blame is not the best use of our time when loved ones are dying in bedrooms, gutters, and coffee shop bathrooms. We’d be wiser to focus on finding solutions to this colossal crisis or at least support groups trying to do this.

Organizations are tackling the problem from all angles. They’re looking at housing the homeless, creating employment opportunities, and decriminalizing drugs. Health agencies continue to develop harm reduction programs like safe drug supply and needle exchange programs. Advocacy groups and community action teams hold awareness events, and educators focus on prevention by delivering drug and alcohol presentations in schools.

But what can the rest of us do to prevent senseless deaths from an opioid overdose?

How we can help:

Here are four things we can do to stay safer and equip ourselves with skills to help a person suffering from an opioid overdose.

  • Ask questions about pain management before accepting prescriptions for opioid painkillers.
  • Educate ourselves with first aid, CPR, and Naloxone training.
  • Learn about the Lifeguard app.
  • Check-in with loved ones.

1. Pain management

During the week of my final exams at university, I had three wisdom teeth removed. The timing was unfortunate, but my teeth wouldn’t wait. The day after my teeth came out, I had an exam. From a corner of the auditorium ceiling, I remember looking down at myself working on my test. I have no idea what kind of painkillers the dentist gave me, but they were strong.

Years later, I took my teenaged son to have a wisdom tooth removed. The dentist prescribed Oxycodone-Acetaminophen for the pain. His advice was, “Take the pain meds straight away. Day three is the worst if you don’t keep up with painkillers. Don’t try to tough it out.”

Also known as Percocet, this medication controls pain but is highly addictive. In my son’s pill bottle, there were 24 tablets — twenty-four strong opioid pills for a sore tooth.

I cautioned my son about the dangers of opioids and advised him to switch to Tylenol sooner than later. Fortunately, his pain was short-lived, and he only took one of the Percocet tablets. His mouth healed quickly, and that was the end of the story. For others, a single prescription of opioid painkillers following an injury or operation can lead to the slippery slope of opioid misuse and sometimes, tragically, death.

According to the Mayo Clinic,

“The length of time you use prescribed opioids also plays a role in potential addiction. Researchers have found that taking opioid medications for more than a few days increases your risk of long-term use, which increases your risk of addiction. The odds you’ll still be on opioids a year after starting a short course increase after only five days on opioids.”

There’s a place for opioids in pain management; however, there are serious risks associated with their use. It’s critical we carefully consider these risks alongside their benefits. It’s up to us to ask questions, educate ourselves, and take responsibility for our health.

Doctors can provide information about pain management that doesn’t involve prescription opioids. Some options may work better and have fewer risks and side effects. These include pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, physical therapy, exercise, and cognitive behavioural therapy.

What can we do?

  • Ask questions about pain medications and avoid prescribed opioids. Before an operation or medical procedure, ask what painkillers the doctor or surgeon is planning to use. If they prescribe an opioid analgesic, ask what alternate drugs and pain management strategies are available.
  • Search medicine cabinets for expired medications and take them to the local pharmacy for safe disposal.

2. Educating ourselves — First Aid and Naloxone training

Last year a friend was walking in downtown Vancouver when she found a man unconscious on the sidewalk. As she was calling 911, a passing cyclist stopped, threw a Naloxone kit onto the street beside her, and cycled off. Our friend knew what Naloxone was but had never used it before. She unzipped the kit, quickly read the instructions, injected the drug into the man’s arm, and saved his life.

How Naloxone works:

Naloxone can quickly reverse the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. In the brain, Naloxone and opioids bind to the same receptor sites. If too many opioids are attached to these receptors, breathing can slow or stop. Naloxone knocks opioids off the receptors and reverses the effects of the drugs temporarily, restoring breathing.

Naloxone is a safe drug with a low risk of serious side effects. If given to a person who is not experiencing an opioid overdose, it does no harm. You can administer Naloxone by injection or by nasal spray. It’s easy to do, but it helps if you’ve taken a short course or at least watched a how-to video.

First Aid & CPR Training:

As breathing is affected during an overdose, we need to know how to give a person rescue breaths. People learn rescue breathing, CPR, and other skills during a first aid course. Those looking to learn or refresh their first aid skills can find a class via their local Red Cross agency.

Mental Health first aid teaches people how to recognize when someone is struggling with a decline in their mental health or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training gives participants knowledge and skills to assist them.

What can we do?

3. The Lifeguard App can help save people who use drugs alone

The vast majority of fatal overdoses occur when people are using drugs alone. Lifeguard is a free phone app (on the ios app store and Google Play). The app brings emergency responders to people who may be overdosing on drugsThe purpose of the app is to reduce the risk of fatal overdose for individuals using alone.

How the Lifeguard app works:

When a person is ready to use their drug, they open the app, Select the drug they’re using and start the app timer. Before the timer begins, they confirm their address and provide additional details to help emergency services find them if needed. Then they tap the start button to activate the timer. The timer begins to count down from one minute. With 10 seconds remaining, an alarm will start to sound and get progressively louder. To silence the alarm, they can tap the stop button. If they’re unable to stop the alarm and the Lifeguard app will contact EMS.

EMS will call their mobile phone immediately to confirm they are OK. If they don’t answer the phone, Emergency Services will send an ambulance. The app’s alarm will continue to sound to help paramedics find the person. The Lifeguard app can also connect people to EMS/911, the 811 nurses line, the suicide prevention line, and the crisis intervention line.

What can we do?

4. Check in with loved ones

Now, more than ever, people are struggling with their mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased isolation, and many people turn to substances because they are lonely. Those who live alone are especially at risk of depression, and if they also use drugs, death from overdose.

In an excellent article in Psychology Today, Robert Weiss, Ph.D., MSW, suggests,

“Addiction is not about the pleasurable effects of substances, it’s about the user’s inability to connect in healthy ways with other human beings. In other words, addiction is not a substance disorder, it’s a social disorder.”

Weiss talks about how people with substance use issues need to connect with safe, supportive, reliable, empathetic people in order to recover.

Addiction isolates people.

People may use substances to cope with depression, anxiety, and stressful situations — avoiding their feelings — and reality. They may cover up their fear and guilt with angry outbursts and emotionally abusive behaviours.

“Hurt people, hurt people.”

― Yehuda Berg

Those struggling with addiction are hurting — and in turn, they may hurt their friends and family, damaging relationships. As the disease progresses and the person’s isolation increases, the result may be death from despair.

What can we do?

  • Check-in with loved ones — elderly relatives, teenagers, young adults living away from home, friends who live alone. How are they doing? How are they feeling? Do they need help with anything? Offer support.

Recap: Four ways we can help save lives

  1. Ask questions about pain management before taking opioid painkillers.
  2. Gain life-saving skills with first aid, CPR, and Naloxone training.
  3. Learn about the Lifeguard app and share the information.
  4. Check-in with loved ones regularly to see how they’re doing.

We can all do something to help prevent people from dying of an opioid overdose. And while we’re at it, let’s look after our mental and physical health so we don’t become a statistic in this escalating epidemic. Instead of being part of the problem, we can become part of the solution.

©Gill McCulloch, April 2021


  1. NCBI:
  2. Addiction, Isolation and the Cycle of Loneliness.
  3. The Folly of Fr. Martin & The Power Of Connection.
  4. Opioid overdose — World Health Organization.
  5. Toward the, Naloxone Saves Lives video
  6. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ‘World Drug Report 2019’
First aid manikin and AED

WorkSafeBC Accepts Red Cross Blended Standard First Aid as OFA Level 1 Equivalent

Did you know WorkSafeBC accepts Canadian Red Cross Blended Standard First Aid as OFA Level 1 equivalent?

How does Blended Standard First Aid benefit employers?

Instead of employees taking two full days off work to attend a classroom-based course, they are now out of the workplace for a single day. This reduces the need for employers to find cover, saving time and money.

What is Standard First Aid?

Standard First Aid is a Canadian Red Cross training course that includes essential lifesaving first aid and CPR skills for the workplace and home. The course meets legislation requirements for provincial/territorial worker safety and insurance boards. It follows the latest first aid and CPR guidelines.

What does Blended Standard First Aid mean?

A blended course includes an online component as well as an in-person session. Students complete an online course where they learn the theory behind the first aid skills. Following this, they attend a practical skills class where they get hands-on practice with equipment in the classroom. During this session, they will complete a multiple-choice test.

What’s the difference between Standard First Aid and Standard First Aid Blended?

With the regular Standard First Aid program, students attend 16 hours of in-person training in the classroom. Classes usually take place over two days. With Blended Standard First Aid training, participants complete the online, theory portion of the course at home or in the workplace. Following this, they attend a full-day, in-person skills session in the classroom.

Where does the practical skills session take place?

The Blended Standard First Aid skills session can take place onsite in the workplace or at a local training venue. You can schedule a group training session at your workplace or register your team members on a public course.

Standard First Aid Blended – About


Standard First Aid with CPR C Blended includes 16 hours of training –  8 hours of online learning + 8 hours in-person training. Online learning time will vary depending on the learner.

Regular Standard First Aid with CPR C includes 16  hours of in-person training

Completion Requirements

  • Attend and participate in 100% of the course
  • Successfully demonstrate practical first aid skills and critical steps
  • Achieve a minimum 75% mark for written knowledge evaluation

Standard First Aid Certification

Red Cross Standard First Aid & CPR certification is valid for three years from the date the certificate is issued. After three years, the full course must be repeated to maintain certification. A shorter, recertification class may be taken before the initial certificate expires.

Standard First Aid Course Content

  • The Red Cross
  • Responding to Emergencies
  • Check, Call, Care
  • Choking
  • Circulation emergencies
  • CPR and AED
  • Breathing Emergencies
  • Wound Care
  • Head, Neck, and Spinal Injuries
  • Bone, Muscle and Joint Injuries
  • Sudden Medical Emergencies
  • Environmental Illness
  • Poisons
  • Includes any other content required by specific legislation

Participant Materials

  • First Aid & CPR (eBook)
  • Standard First Aid – Online course (8 hours)
  • Standard First Aid certificate (digital certificate issued upon successful completion)
  • Printable version – Standard First Aid

Standard First Aid Private Group Training

Interested in Private Group Training for your team? Please contact us and ask for a quote.

Safe + Sound Private group training, onsite at Vancouver Film Studios.

child in red cross babysitting class

Online Babysitting Training – Frequently Asked Questions

Virtual Babysitting Training, also referred to as Online Babysitting Training has become very popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Red Cross developed the Virtual Babysitting course as a response to concerns from parents about children attending in-person group classes.

Red Cross Babysitting Training includes basic first aid and caregiving skills for youth aged 11–15 years old. Participants learn how to provide care to younger children in a variety of age groups, and how to prevent and respond to emergencies. The course also offers youth the training to promote themselves safely as a babysitter to prospective parents.

Frequently asked questions about Virtual Babysitting Training


Q: How old do you have to be to take a Virtual Babysitting course?

A: Participants must be 11 years of age or older (or must have completed Grade 5). The Virtual Babysitting course is designed for children aged 11-15 years.


Q: My child is not yet 11 years old. Is there an online safety course they can take?

A: Children aged 9-13 can take our Home Alone Safety for Kids online course.


Course fees

Q: How much does a Red Cross Babysitting course cost?

A: You can find course information and current pricing here


Course length and timing

Q: How long is a Red Cross Virtual Babysitting class?

A: A Red Cross Virtual Babysitting class is 7 hours long including breaks.


Q: Is the Red Cross Babysitting course a one day class or is it split into two or more sessions?

A: A Red Cross Babysitting course can be run over a single day or split into two or more sessions.


Qualifications and certification

Q: What are the qualifications of a Red Cross Babysitting course instructor?

A: Red Cross Babysitting course instructors are certified Red Cross Youth Leaders.


Q: Will my child get a certificate when they’ve taken their Red Cross Babysitting class?

A: Yes. Children receive a Red Cross Babysitting participation certification on completion of the class.


Q: When my child has taken a Red Cross Virtual Babysitting course, will they be qualified to babysit?

A: Your child will gain useful skills and knowledge on the Babysitting course. After the class, they will be more prepared and confident to babysit. The Babysitting course is a participation class. There is no testing of skills and therefore no “qualification” Whether or not the child is ready to take on the responsibility of babysitting is left to the discretion of the child’s parent or guardian.


Group Size

Q: How many participants are there in a Virtual Babysitting class?

A: The Canadian Red Cross allows a maximum of 15 children in a Virtual Babysitting class.


Course Topics

Q: What topics are included in a Red Cross Virtual Babysitting course?

A: On a Red Cross Babysitting course children learn:

  • How to look after babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children.
  • Care for himself/herself and siblings when home alone.
  • Create a safe environment, and deal with phone calls and unexpected visitors.
  • React confidently in case of an emergency, such as choking, bleeding, poisoning or burns.
  • Cope with common problems, such as tantrums and crying.
  • Play games and organize activities to keep kids of all ages entertained.
  • Manage a babysitting business. This includes creating a resume and a business card and asking the right questions before accepting a babysitting job.

First Aid Content includes:

  • Check, Call, Care (includes phoning EMS/911)
  • Glove removal
  • Recovery position
  • Conscious choking (adult/child/baby/alone)
  • CPR (baby/child)
  • Illness
  • Asthma (includes use of inhaler and spacer)
  • Anaphylaxis (includes use of EpiPen)
  • Poisoning
  • Insect stings
  • Wound care (i.e. minor cuts and scrapes, splinters, nosebleeds, bumps and bruises
  • Life-threatening bleeding, burns)
  • Head, neck and back injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Seizures

Private Group Virtual Babysitting Training

Q: Can I book a private Virtual Babysitting class for my group?

A: Yes. If you have 8-15 children aged 11-15 years, you can book a private Virtual Babysitting class for your group.


Course Materials

Q: What materials will I need to provide for my child for use during the Virtual Babysitting class?

A: When you register your child for the class, you will receive an email confirmation with course details including what your child needs to have with them during the training. Your child will also receive a Red Cross Babysitting book and other materials in the mail. Here is a list of some of the items you may be asked to provide:

  • Doll or stuffed animal (to practice baby care – holding, carrying, burping, feeding, comforting etc.
  • Triangular bandage or clean tea towel (to practice bandaging life-threatening external bleeding.
  • Pair of disposable gloves or any gloves available in the home (to practice safe glove removal.
  • Thick marker pen or something that looks similar (to practice using an EpiPen)
  • Pen and paper for note-taking
  • Water bottle

There is no need to buy any of the above items. Children are encouraged to improvise with things they can find around the home.

Q: Will my child get a Red Cross Babysitting book with their course?

A: Yes. Red Cross Babysitting course students receive a copy of the Red Cross Babysitting book in the mail. If they register at least a week before the class, they should get their book before their class. If they register later, they will receive their book along with their Babysitting certificate after the class.


Technical Info

Q: Do participants have to set up their own Zoom account to take a virtual Babysitting class?

A: Participants are not required to have their own Zoom account to participate in a Red Cross Babysitting class. We will email a link to each participant before the class. Participants do need to have access to a computer with a webcam and microphone. This must be turned on for the duration of the class.


Legal Questions

Q: What is the legal age to babysit in BC, Canada?

A: There is no age specified by law for babysitting. It is a matter of the parent determining if a child is responsible enough to provide a safe environment for the younger children in their care. Canadian social services organizations advise that children under 12 years should not be left at home alone.


Q: What is the legal age for leaving children unsupervised in Canada?

A: This is a difficult question as the guidelines vary in different provinces. In British Columbia, there is no legislated minimum age for leaving a child alone for a short period. However, according to a B.C. Supreme Court decision, children under the age of 10 should not be left unsupervised at home.

This is a complicated issue and the guidelines are unclear. Please refer to this article from the Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal: Legal Age for Leaving Children
Unsupervised Across Canada.


Course Registration

Q: How can I register my child in a Red Cross Virtual Babysitting class?

A: You can find information, a schedule and online registration for Virtual Babysitting classes here.

We look forward to meeting your child and their friends soon!


Electrical sparks on dark background

A Shocking Experience Taught Me a Valuable Safety Lesson

When I got up that morning, I wasn’t expecting to wind up electrocuted and left for dead. The consequences of a careless mistake taught me a valuable safety lesson, and by sharing it with others, I hope to save some lives.


Everything seemed to be going smoothly that fateful day until I heard,

Zzzt zzzt zzzt — and a man shouting at me,

“Lie down on the ground! Don’t move!”

“What happened?” I asked.

“You touched a cable, and you’ve been electrocuted,” he replied. Keep still.

I lay on the ground — shocked.


An emergency scene

As I looked around, it became apparent a bus had crashed, and there were multiple casualties. I listened to the cries of the injured passengers while bystanders asked questions in urgent voices,

“Did you see what happened?”

“Where are you hurt?”

“Did you hit your head?”

“You — in the blue shirt, call 911 and report back to me”.

Utter chaos.


Helpless and frustrated

Most unbearable was being unable to help. From my horizontal position, I assessed the scene and thought about everything I could be doing for the injured people around me.

I’d been trained in first aid, but because I’d forgotten to check for danger before rushing to help, I’d become a casualty and was now useless. Silently, I coached the helpers as they gave CPR, bandaged wounds, and supported broken limbs.

Finally, the man who told me I’d been electrocuted called a stop to the proceedings.

“So,” he said, chin down, eyebrows raised, wide eyes looking pointedly at me. “What have we all learned from this exercise?” Cringing with embarrassment, I slowly raised my hand.


First aid scenario

It was the end of a two-day Red Cross Standard First Aid & CPR class and time to put our new skills to the test. The instructor had split us into two groups and told my group to wait in the hallway. After a while, we’d be called in to deal with an emergency scene and would have to give first aid to any casualties we found.

The instructor set up the room with the other class members while we waited nervously in the hallway. A few minutes later, he flung open the door with a look of panic. “Help! Quick! There’s been a terrible accident. People are injured!”


The crucial question

As instructed, before entering the room, I asked the question, “Is the scene safe?” The instructor paused before answering, “The scene appears — to be safe.” In hindsight, I should’ve listened more carefully to the emphasis he put on the word appears.

Hearts thumping, adrenaline pumping, my classmates and I rushed into the room and looked around. We saw injured people everywhere, moaning, groaning, crying, dying, pools of fake blood on the floor. I ran to a man lying on his back with his eyes closed. Kneeling beside him, I began to check for responsiveness, and that’s when I heard the ominous sound,

Zzzt zzzt zzzt

I looked up in confusion to find the instructor standing beside me. He told me I’d just been electrocuted and pointed to the floor by my casualty’s chest. I noticed I was kneeling on a wire trailing beneath the man’s body.


In my rush to save a life, I’d killed myself.


A humiliating moment and a powerful lesson

The instructor told me to lie quietly beside my casualty as I was now dead and unable to help him. I lay on the ground, humiliated, while the other students in my group saved their injured people. It was a humbling moment. Until that point, I’d felt pretty confident in the skills I’d learned during the course, but as I lay helpless beside my dying person, I knew I’d missed the most critical step.

I vowed NEVER to make the same mistake again.

Rushing around, not paying attention are common reasons people have accidents. That day, I learned a vital lesson. Whenever you go into a room or a new environment, always check for dangers.

Look up, down, all around. Is there something you could trip on, slip on? Is there fire, wire, gas, glass, drugs, or thugs?


Remember — If you’re killed or injured, you can’t help anyone.


I completed my training, became a Red Cross first aid instructor, and opened Safe + Sound First Aid Training (still going strong 21 years later). Over the years, I’ve taught hundreds of first aid & CPR courses and trained thousands of people. I’ve electrocuted many students in first aid scenarios. I hope it’s taught them the same valuable lesson I learned years ago. By sharing the story of my deadly mistake, I hope I’ve saved some lives.

First aid instructor in foreground with CPR manikins behind

Gill McCulloch, Owner, Safe + Sound First Aid Training Ltd.










Take a first aid course and learn to save a life.


injured worker lying slumped against wall with person giving first aid.

WorkSafeBC Accepts Red Cross Blended Emergency First Aid as OFA 1 Equivalent

BC employers will be happy with a recent announcement from the Canadian Red Cross. Effective June 15, 2020, WorkSafeBC accepts Canadian Red Cross Blended Emergency First Aid as OFA Level 1 equivalent.

What is Emergency First Aid?

Emergency First Aid is a Canadian Red Cross training course that includes essential lifesaving first aid and CPR skills for the workplace and home. The course meets legislation requirements for provincial/territorial worker safety and insurance boards. It follows the latest first aid and CPR guidelines.

What does Blended Emergency First Aid mean?

A blended course includes an online component as well as an in-person session. Students complete an online course where they learn the theory behind the first aid skills. Following this, they attend a practical skills class where they get hands-on practice. During this session, they will complete a multiple-choice test.

How does Blended Emergency First Aid benefit employers?

Instead of employees taking a full day off work to attend a classroom-based course, they can now take a half-day. Participants will complete the online portion of the course at home or in the workplace before the classroom session. Workers will have less time away from the workplace. This reduces the need for employers to find cover, saving time and money.

Where does the practical skills session take place?

The Blended Emergency First Aid skills session can take place onsite in the workplace or at a local training venue.

Emergency First Aid Blended – About


Blended EFA with CPR C (adult, child and infant skills):
4.5 hours in-class + 4 hours online learning**

Regular EFA with CPR C:
7.5 hours in-class


  • Successfully demonstrate skills and critical steps
  • Min. 75% mark for written knowledge evaluation
  • Attend and participate in 100% of the course


3-year certification in Emergency First Aid and CPR Level C


EFA with CPR C: 5 hours in-class OR 4 hours in-class + 4 hours online learning**

Hands typing on computer keyboard

Course Content

  • The Red Cross
  • Preparing to respond
  • The EMS system
  • Check, Call, Care
  • Airway emergencies
  • Breathing and Circulation emergencies
  • First aid for respiratory and cardiac arrest
  • Wound care
  • Includes any other content required by specific legislation

Participant Materials

  • First Aid & CPR (eBook)
  • Emergency First Aid – Online (Blended only)
  • Emergency First Aid certificate (digital certificate issued upon successful completion)
  • Printable version – Emergency First Aid

*Recertification not available in all jurisdictions.

**Online learning time will vary depending on the learner.

Interested in Private Group Training for your team? Please contact us and ask for a quote.


Students in first aid class doing CPR wearing face masks.

Onsite Emergency First Aid Training at Vancouver Film Studios. June 2020.

Psychological First Aid Training Can Save Lives - Close-up of a devastated young man holding his head in his hands and a group of friends in a supportive pose around him

Psychological First Aid Can Save Lives

Who can benefit from Psychological First Aid training?

First aid for the mind is just as important as first aid for the body. Like physical first aid, psychological first aid training can save lives. Individuals suffering from high-stress levels, burnout and suicidal thoughts are at an all-time high in areas such as workplaces, schools, indigenous communities and among professional responders.

The Canadian Red Cross Psychological First Aid course is a resiliency building wellness program. The course equips learners to develop a personal understanding of the effects of stress, loss, trauma and grief on others, emphasizing self-care and personal protection. The course uses primarily case-based learning and includes the latest evidence from the international community.

Psychological First Aid course schedule and online registration 

Psychological First Aid Course Details

Course fee
$115.00 + GST per person

The course is adaptable to all audiences (Youth, Workplace, Professional Responder)

45-90 minutes online learning and 7 hours in-class

Canadian Red Cross Psychological First Aid Instructor

  • Prerequisites
    16 years of age (recommended)
  • Psychological First Aid – Self-Care online course (required for blended option only)
  • Participate in 100% of the in-class course
  • Complete the online course: Psychological First Aid – Self-Care (required for blended option only)

3-year Red Cross certification in Psychological First Aid

Course Content
Case-based learning and discussion will be tailored to the audience and include the following content:

Psychological First Aid Training Can Save Lives - Image of two people sitting on a park bench with one comforting the other.

  • Introduction to Red Cross
  • Case Studies
  • Psychological First Aid
  • Operational Principles
  • Stress, Distress
  • Loss and Grief
  • Trauma
  • Indicators
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Supportive Communication
  • Look, Listen, Link, Live
  • Resiliency and Protective Factors
  • Protection
  • Policies, Legislation
  • Self-Care
  • Participant Materials
  • Psychological First Aid Workbook (print)
  • Look, Listen, Link, Live cards
  • Psychological First Aid–Self-Care online course (required for blended option)
  • Psychological First Aid–Caring for Others online course (optional)

More info about Psychological First Aid from the Canadian Red Cross website

Frequently Asked Questions about Psychological First Aid

Q: Is Red Cross Psychological First Aid a nationally recognized certification?

A: Yes. The Red Cross Psychological First Aid certification is recognized across Canada.

Q: Can I book a private Psychological First Aid course for my team?

A: Yes. Please contact us for pricing onsite training information.

Q: What is the difference between Psychological First Aid and Mental Health First Aid? 

A:  Mental Health First Aid focuses on primarily educating professional responders on the signs, symptoms, and care for various types of mental health issues.

Psychological First Aid offers a daily aid to dealing with the stresses of life for individuals within a broad spectrum of communities.

Q: Do participants get a certificate after completing a Psychological First Aid course?

A: Yes. You will receive certification from the Canadian Red Cross.


Psychological First Aid Can Save Lives.
Register for a class now or book a group training session for your team.

First aid training classroom with physical distancing layout

First Aid Training During COVID-19 – What We’re Doing to Keep You Safe

If you need to update your first aid certification, you may be concerned about whether it’s safe to take an in-person class during COVID-19 restrictions. This article explains what you can expect in a first aid class and what we’re doing to ensure your health and safety. We hope the information below will reassure you about registering for a course or booking a private group training session for your team.

Safe + Sound First Aid Training is following WorkSafe BC and Canadian Red Cross health and safety guidelines for first aid agencies.

Click here for our full COVID-10 Health and Safety Protocols

Woman wearing face mask standing near table and hand sanitizer stand.

On arrival at your first aid class, a friendly staff member will greet you and ask you to use hand sanitizer before completing a health screening questionnaire.

Brief outline


  • Receive health and safety information via email before the class.
  • Are required to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination on arrival at the course location.
  • Complete a health screening questionnaire before entering the classroom.
  • Are required to wash/sanitize their hands before, during and after class.
  • Wear a mask before entering the classroom and throughout the course.
  • Are spaced at least 2 metres apart in the training room.
  • Have their own manikin, equipment, and supplies.
  • Are given a disposable, one-way valve with a filter to use with their CPR breathing mask.
  • Use equipment that has been sanitized following WorkSafeBC and Canadian Red Cross guidelines.

Health screening

Before admittance into the class, participants must complete a health questionnaire. This helps us determine if they have been ill or have had any signs of illness (fever, cough, breathing difficulties/shortness of breath, or other symptoms) within the last 24 hours, travelled outside of Canada within the previous 14 days or been in contact with someone who is ill. (Source Government of Canada Participants with pre-existing conditions (e.g., allergies causing sneezing) are discouraged from attending training; this helps participants in the course feel secure.


COVID-19 Health Screening Questionnaire

Each student completes a health screening questionnaire before being admitted to class.


Face masks

We require that students and instructors wear face masks during the entire class. While this is slightly inconvenient, it gives people confidence that they will remain safe while spending a day in a room with other people.


Hand sanitizing

We ask participants to use hand sanitizer on arrival and wash their hands regularly throughout the day and at the end of the class. Washrooms are situated close to the classrooms.

Smaller group sizes and physical distancing

We have reduced our class sizes to meet physical distancing guidelines in our classrooms. Each student has a two-metre square area, with their chair and all the equipment and supplies they need for the class. Students are asked to remain in their area throughout the class, except during breaks.

Classroom layout

With current physical distancing guidelines, participants need to be separated by a minimum of 2 metres.  As you can see from the image, we have arranged our classroom to create individual stations where students remain during class.

First aid training classroom with physical distancing layout. Workstations are two metres apart.

First aid workstations are situated two metres apart in the classrooms.


Physical contact

Participants are not required to have any physical contact with other students or the instructor. Previously, some first aid skills like the recovery position, splints and slings, required people to work in pairs. We have come up with creative ways to teach these skills without students having physical contact with others.

Equipment – one to one ratios

Each student has an adult manikin, infant manikin, AED trainer (defibrillator), and first aid supplies to use during class. There is no sharing of equipment or supplies.

First aid class individual workstation with CPR manikins, AED trainer and first aid supplies

First aid class workstation. Each student has their own Mankins, AED, kneeling mat and first aid supplies. No sharing or physical contact with other students.

What about gloves and CPR breathing masks?

We give each student disposable vinyl gloves and a new, disposable one-way valve and filter to use with their CPR mask. Students may take the CPR masks home with them.

White plastic tray containing first aid supplies for use during a first aid class.

Each student has a tray containing the first aid supplies they need for the day.

Cleaning and sanitizing

Following guidelines from WorkSafeBC and the Canadian Red Cross, we sanitize all first aid equipment thoroughly after use.


We hope the above information will reassure you about taking a class or booking a private class for your team. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.



Five star Google review for Safe + Sound First Aid Training, from first aid training client, June 2020

Google review from Emergency Child Care First Aid CPR course participant, June 2020. Thank you Becky! More Google Reviews









First aid course information, schedules and online registration


Private Group First Aid Training

Students in first aid class doing CPR wearing face masks.

June 2020. Private onsite group training at Pacific Backlot / Vancouver Film Studios. Workers learning CPR during a Red Cross Emergency First Aid (OFA 1) class.