Selma Fire Department jump starts free CPR courses

Free CPR, AED training courses available to Selma residents in English and Spanish through fire department, health care district partnership

Chest compression and ambubag ventilation during CPR training with a doll
Chest compression and ambubag ventilation during CPR training with a doll
Serena Bettis
Published February 28, 2024  • 
11:00 am

SELMA – The Selma Fire Department is working to breathe life into the community through CPR courses and other outreach initiatives that are free and easily accessible to all Selma residents. 

Throughout 2024, the fire department will be able to provide a total of eight CPR classes, including at least two taught fully in Spanish, to residents free of charge thanks to a grant from the Selma Healthcare District. Donavon Fullner, a division chief for the department, spearheaded the project because he said he wanted to provide an extra level of service to his community.

“I live within Selma — and I’m from here — and I want to educate everybody, anybody, on CPR,” Fullner said. “I think it’s so important that everyone knows how to perform CPR; it doesn’t matter (a person’s) age, the need could be there.” 

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), CPR, which stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival if administered immediately after cardiac arrest. 

Cardiac arrest is when someone’s heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly, according to the AHA. When this occurs, a person will become unresponsive and stop breathing. If a person does not receive immediate CPR, they can quickly die. 

CPR training can help individuals save the lives of their family members — the AHA says that nearly 75% of cardiac arrests occur within the home — or strangers in public spaces. According to the 2023 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, of the 356,000 cardiac arrests that occurred in 2023 outside of a hospital setting, 40% of the affected individuals received “bystander CPR.”

The classes taught by the Selma Fire Department will include material covered in the AHA’s Heartsaver First Aid, CPR and AED course and go over CPR for children, infants and adults. Courses teach individuals with little to no medical training how to respond to emergency situations and how to administer CPR and use AEDs (automated external defibrillators). 

Fullner said the grant from the health care district helped the department purchase additional materials for the courses and account for the personnel hours needed to run them. The department also set aside some of the funding to use for educational outreach at public events. 

“We’ve got a few events that we’ve got earmarked for us to provide a booth, where not only will we advertise, but we’ll teach a quick five-minute CPR overview,” Fullner said. 

While the grant covers eight CPR courses this calendar year, Fullner said he would ideally like to be able to provide a course to residents once a month. Additionally, he is hoping that the department will be able to continue to offer free courses beyond this year. 

Part of Fullner’s inspiration to apply for the health care district grant was how costly it can be to sign up for a CPR certification course. For example, in-person CPR certification courses provided by the American Red Cross can cost upwards of $60. Various online courses that do not provide hands-on training can cost $20 or more.

By being able to hold these courses for residents directly in Selma, and also provide courses in Spanish, Fullner hopes to reach people who otherwise would not be able to learn CPR. 

Above all else, Fullner stressed that the department’s goal with these classes is to teach people how to administer CPR and spread the fact that knowing CPR can save a person’s life. 

“(People) don’t know what they don’t know, but the importance of knowing CPR could make a huge impact in everybody’s life,” Fullner said. 

Each CPR course has space for nine people, making a total of 72 Selma residents who will learn CPR from the fire department this year. The courses are only open to Selma residents and are held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

To sign up, residents can fill out the Google form that is accessible through a QR code posted to the fire department’s social media pages. Additionally, residents can call the department at 559-891-2211 for more information. 

Fullner said the number of Spanish classes provided will depend on the need and interest of residents who sign up. The next CPR course taught in Spanish is scheduled for April 13 and the next course taught in English is scheduled for June 15.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter