Training in Cai’s Memory

Undergrads receive free first aid training in program which honors student

Unnamed photo
Giselle Cheung

Students take part in CPR training offered by Harvard Friends of the American Red Cross and Harvard Emergency Medical Services.

Harvard Friends of the American Red Cross and the Harvard Emergency Medical Services held the first ever campus-wide CPR and first aid training on Saturday in memory of Peter Cai ’10.

Cai, who died suddenly last month of cardiac arrest, was the co-director of HEMS.

The original idea of a CPR and first aid training day was to provide low-cost classes on a small scale, according to Natasa Kovacevic ’10, co-president of the Harvard Friends of the American Red Cross.

After Cai’s death, organizers decided to open up the event to the whole community. They said they made this project a top priority, believing that it was “the best way to honor Peter,” according to Kovacevic.

“This event carries on the spirit of voluntarism, which really embodied Peter and his work at Harvard,” said Meicheng Shi ’10, co-president of the Harvard Friends of the American Red Cross. “It was very difficult for us because on the day he passed away, we were supposed to meet that afternoon to organize this very event,” Shi said.

Held in the Science Center and Sever Hall, the mass-training was the first of its kind at Harvard.

Training through the American Red Cross normally cost participants $60, but students at the Harvard’s CPR/First Aid Training Day attended free of charge.

According to Shi, Red Cross waived almost all the administrative and supply fees, and the Boston University Fitness and Recreation Center lent 31 mannequins. In the end, total costs amounted to $700, which was covered by a grant from the Undergraduate Council.

“Everyone was so supportive of our efforts because the idea behind it is very meaningful,” Shi said.

Over 200 students requesting a spot, Kovacevic said.

Students learned to make slings from bandages and practiced CPR on mannequins, among other activities. Classes concluded with a written exam.

At the end of the day, 67 students received either CPR or first aid certification.

Sondra H. Lavigne ’10 called the first aid training a “great opportunity to learn useful skills,” adding that she especially appreciated that the classes were free.

All ten instructors at Saturday’s training were volunteers, including John Coulon, who has been teaching life-saving skills since 1972.

Coulon said he offered to participate in the weekend’s activities as soon as he received an e-mail from Red Cross asking for instructors.

“It’s for a great cause. I keep on teaching because it excites me,” Coulon said, adding that the day was “a blast.”

“Overall, it was a phenomenal experience. This year, we’ve set the standard,” Shi said. “We want to nail down the steps, come back next year, and make it larger and even more successful.”