The news concerning the District of Columbia's emergency ambulance system clearly indicates a need for reform. A Post editorial {May 17} outlined some of the needed changes, yet it omitted the most important: that every adult and teen-ager should take a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid course. The most vital component of the Emergency Medical Services system is the trained citizen-rescuer who must initiate immediate care for the victim until trained medical help arrives.

The American Heart Association (Nation's Capital Affiliate) and the D.C. Fire Department are jointly offering free CPR courses on the fourth Saturday of each month for the rest of 1987. In addition, the American Red Cross (District of Columbia Chapter) offers CPR and first aid courses at its five service centers, as well as elsewhere in the District. The District of Columbia chapter charges a nominal fee, but waivers can be arranged for those whose income is limited. Between 14 and 24 hours is required to become trained in both CPR and basic first aid. Therefore, it is inexcusable for anyone who lives or works in the District of Columbia not to be trained in these lifesaving skills. The burden should not rest on the D.C. ambulance system alone.

EDWARD CHUNG Emergency Medical Technician Waldorf