At Red Cross, safety skills aren’t just for relief workers

September 8, 2013

Organization: American Red Cross.

Location: Washington.

Employees: More than

1,000 locally;

31,000

nationwide.

Like she’s done so many times before, Anne Marie Borrego last week was using a mandoline slicer to cut zucchini in her kitchen. Except this time, there was a mishap. She accidentally sliced open her fourth finger. But she didn’t panic.

That’s because Borrego had recently undergone first aid and CPR training through her employer, the American Red Cross. And she didn’t receive the training because she’s one of the District-based organization’s relief workers.

In fact, as a member of the communications team, she spends most of her days at a desk. But the organization allows all of its workers, no matter their job function, to take time away from their offices or cubicles to learn these safety skills.

“It’s just nice that as an organization that we practice what we preach,” Borrego said.

Borrego said the free classes often serve as something of a team-building exercise, with departments signing up together to learn the ropes from one of Red Cross’s certified instructors. They’ll often take over a conference room or other common space at the office for a full day of training. That they get to learn from a colleague, Borrego said, makes the lesson feel that much more personal.

And since the certifications expire after two years, many workers repeat the process numerous times over the course of their tenure.

Borrego said Red Cross’s senior leadership has been very supportive of the initiative, never discouraging people from taking time off from their regular duties to learn or brush up on their skills.

“It’s something that we really do take seriously. And I think it’s something I can really take home,” Borrego said.

If it’s not convenient for employees to take the classes on-site at the office, they can also receive coupons to take them for free at centers closer to their homes.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
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