I love scrolling through Facebook and Instagram and seeing all of the #10yearchallenge posts! My #10yearchallenge has me reflecting on the past 10 years of teaching CPR, how I started my business, lessons learned along the way, and where to go from here.

Door-to-Door CPR Lady

My CPR business began as an accident. I had just bought a home in a new subdivision in a rural part of Arizona and I was researching the response times for the police and fire departments (I know, I’m a nerd…I knew the response times would be longer than what I was used to, but I didn’t realize that it could take up to 23 minutes for help to arrive!). This got me thinking…”If I had an emergency, would my neighbors be able to help me for 23 minutes while we are waiting for help to arrive?”

After making phone calls to the fire department and the neighborhood block watch to try to organize a neighborhood safety day and running into scheduling conflicts and one roadblock after another, I decided that I would become a CPR instructor and start teaching classes for my neighborhood. Now this wasn’t necessarily such a stretch from what I was used to. I was already working as a 9-1-1 Operator, volunteering with our Victim Services Division, had earned my B.S. and M.A. in Criminal Justice, and was a certified Emergency Medical Technician, so I was familiar with the public safety industry and performing CPR and First Aid.

I found a CPR instructor course, purchased one set of CPR manikins (boy those things are expensive!), and set off on my way to teach my neighbors CPR! It must have been quite a spectacle to see me walking down the street rolling my bag of Little Annie manikins from house to house knocking on doors asking if my neighbors would let me in! “Hi, I’m your neighbor Emily, can I come inside and teach your family CPR?” And surprisingly most people let me in their homes!

Changing the Perception

I hadn’t realized during the process of me holding CPR classes in my neighbor’s living rooms, in our neighborhood park, at the coffee shop down the block, or on the back deck next to the pool, we were changing the perception of a typical CPR class. We were getting out from behind the classroom, sitting on the floor together, eating snacks, and connecting at a deeper level. We were breaking barriers, sitting in our flip flops and shorts, laughing, and learning lifesaving skills.

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one that thrived during this unconventional learning environment. My neighbors were loving their CPR training experience and telling their friends, who were telling their friends, who told their friends. It was snow ball effect of scheduling CPR classes and before long, it turned into profitable full-time business.

10 Years Ago

Well, actually, more like 12 years ago…My journey to becoming a business owner wasn’t necessarily planned out and at times I feel like I just fell into it. The journey started with a need. I wanted to make sure my neighborhood was prepared and had a plan in case there was an emergency. Along the way I’ve been able to connect with a lot of people, share my personal and professional experiences, and become someone they can trust with their CPR and First Aid certification and recertification needs. I am blessed to have a high referral rate and recertification rate and I absolutely love what I am doing. 12 years later, I have relocated to Missouri, have opened up my second CPR business, have several instructors that support my mission, and am able to keep a full calendar of classes and community events.

Lessons Learned

  • Take more pictures! I have been looking everywhere for pictures from my first CPR classes and I can’t find any! I am making a goal to document my journey – both the good and the lessons learned – so that I can reflect back and appreciate everywhere that I’ve been!
  • Embrace what makes you different! I love being known as the travelling CPR lady! I love that people look at me sideways when I offer CPR theme parties. My goal is to leave my students comfortable and confident in important life-saving skills and if that means we learn during a Sunday brunch style class or an ice cream social style class, that is what we do!
  • Have a clear vision! I have a large post-it note hanging on the wall in my office with my goals and my business mission and vision statement. Anytime I find myself thinking, “Should I teach this class?” or “Is this the right customer for me?”, I go back to that post-it note and make sure that I am sticking to those guidelines.

Did you take part in the #10yearchallenge? If so, we’d love to see it. Visit Show Me CPR & Personal Safety on Facebook to share your story.