My First American Red Cross Experience

By Erin Thayse, Red Cross Volunteer

Me at 13!

Me at 13!

When you are thirteen years old, ways to earn an income are limited. My parents did not believe in allowances so babysitting was my second choice. My mother said I would be more marketable if I was “certified” so she signed me up for the American Red Cross Babysitting Training.

I was familiar with the American Red Cross building at 2131 Deckner Avenue as it was passed on our way to Cub Foods. Walking into the building by myself, there were signs letting me know the babysitter course was held in the basement, first door on the left. Down the stairs I went into a room lit with fluorescent lights containing a U shaped table. Since I was a shy thirteen year old, I stationed myself next to another girl sitting by herself and hoped she was not holding the seat for a friend.

In the following weeks of class, about ten of us learned how to perform CPR, the baby Heimlich maneuver, how to change a diaper and properly feed a baby.  Some of us caught on better than others due to experience with younger brothers or sisters while others performed just well enough to pass. Our instructor was understanding but firm, an older woman who probably had taught the class for years and had practiced the techniques on her own children and grandchildren.

We all had one common thought: while we were prepared to perform the life saving techniques we learned in class, we NEVER wanted to use them in our actual babysitting careers. With such great power comes great responsibility and the Babysitting Training instilled in us how great of a responsibility we were undertaking.

We earned our certification and handed a laminated card to put in our respective wallets to show potential employers of our qualifications. I did have a couple of regular families I would babysit for, all with older kids who did not require bottles or diaper changes. Through it all, I was fortunate enough not to use any of the preparedness skills learned at the Red Cross on my kids (I do remember having to treat my own second degree burn after making lunch on the stove though).

When I walked into the Deckner Avenue location some sixteen years later to start my new journey as an American Red Cross volunteer, I still remembered where the Babysitting Training was held. Maybe I will be in front of the class teaching potential babysitters with the new CPR techniques…but probably not. I was a much better babysitting pets than I was kids.

Training for Babysitters from the American Red Cross

Our course has changed quite a bit in 16 years, but one common theme remains the same: this class provides the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and responsibly care for infants and children.

Learn how to help kids have fun, while keeping them safe and following household rules with Babysitting Basics and Babysitter’s Training from the Red Cross. To learn more about these two programs and to sign up for a class near you click HERE.

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