The business of life

Emergency Training Northwest teaches life-saving skills to create a safer workplace

First-aid and CPR instructor Max Konkright has demonstrated life-saving techniques for thousands of people, many of them employees of local companies that are required to learn these skills. Many may never use what he has taught, but the few that do – and end up saving a life – make it all worthwhile. Konkright recalls one student that was sure she could never remember the life-saving steps he tried to teach her. Konkright told her to rely on her instincts. Three months later the student called to tell Konkright that during an emergency at work everything flooded back, her instincts took over, and she saved a life.

"There’s nothing better," said Konkright.

Emergency Training Northwest was established in 1995 by Max and Camie Konkright. Heather and Geoff Gutridge recently joined the company as it has expanded its products and services. The Konkrights and Gutridges use the skills they teach on a regular basis as professional firefighters and paramedics.

As with many businesses, technology is changing the way first-aid and CPR are taught and delivered. Emergency Training Northwest has developed an online course to cut down classroom time. Heather Gutridge said about 90 percent of employers choose the online option. Study materials are downloaded for students and class-time is then spent on review and CPR skills. Classroom time is cut from four to two hours.

The company’s fastest growing product is the automated external defibrillator, a device that, when hooked up to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest, analyzes the hearts’ rhythm for any abnormalities and, if necessary, delivers an electrical shock to the victim.

AEDs are becoming more commonplace as the technology is refined and they become less expensive.

"People are more aware of sudden cardiac death," said Gutridge. "AEDs are very easy to use and more readily accessible."

Emergency Training Northwest sells the units for about $2,500, including training.

"We’ve sold quite a few just this year," said Gutridge.

The company holds 12 to 18 first-aid and CPR classes each month for businesses and one class each month for individuals. Emergency Training Northwest teaches throughout Washington and Oregon and is working on securing some contracts in Idaho and Utah.

Business has grown increasingly over the years, said Gutridge. Labor and Industries regulations typically require all businesses to have at least one person on staff trained in first-aid and CPR.

Awareness is also a factor, she said: "People are seeing the importance of quick CPR and the difference it makes in survivability."

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