Melissa Dempsey, @melifax, learns how to use an AED machine. She stays clear of the body after she presses the shock button. (Photo by: Lindsay Morey)

Canadian Red Cross holds its first CPR Tweet-up event in Halifax

Finally, a course where texting or tweeting during class is encouraged.


Canadian Red Cross offers free CPR training at Dalhousie University for its followers on Twitter.

A small group of 10 people who follow the Canadian Red Cross on Twitter met up to get free CPR training Nov. 16.
The participants wrote down their Twitter user names on their name tags as they showed up for the five-hour course.

Everyone involved in the CPR Tweet-up event sent tweets about things they were learning during the class. They interacted with people in other cities such as St. John's, Richmond Hill, London, Toronto and Edmonton.

Former University of King's College student, Melissa Dempsey, who uses the Twitter username @melifax, says
it's the first time she ever had CPR training. She said she enjoyed it because it was informative and interactive.

She tweeted that she learned, "def head tilt / chin lift,
use of the recovery position and not to be afraid of
compression injuries."

Play BoxPlay Arrow

CPR procedures has been updated since 2005.

Now for infant, children, and adults give:

  • 30 compressions, 2 breathes


Dempsey also tweeted that
she learned 75 per cent of
cardiac arrests happen at
home and most commonly in the bathroom.

The course, which normally costs $60, covers how to recognize signs of stroke, heart attack and diabetic shock. It also covers how to properly perform CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator machine.

Joanna Muise, injury prevention officer with Dartmouth's Red Cross, says doing a Tweet-up in Halifax breaks the traditional mould that people expect from the Red Cross. She says using social media, instead of print or radio, allows them to connect with a younger and tech-savvy demographic. The organization decided to hold a Tweet-up event because November is national CPR awareness month.

Janice Babineau, communications coordinator with the Canadian Red Cross in the Atlantic region, says the Tweet-up is meant to remind people about the importance of CPR training and keeping it updated.

"[It] can happen to people anywhere," Babineau says. "Whether it's at home, at work, or just on the street, if you see someone collapse and it's up to all of us to know what to do if such a situation were to happen." 

Babineau says calling 911 is obviously important, but knowing what to do in the first few minutes can make a huge difference in saving someone's life.

Muise says there are two reasons why students should update their CPR training:
For job applications

  1. It gives them an advantage when submitting their resume. It's something an employer doesn't have to do as part of introductory training.
  2. It's part of their life, both at school and home. Everyone has someone that they care about and who they would want to help in an emergency.

In Nova Scotia, it's provincial law to have a minimum of 6 per cent of staff to have CPR training at any work place.

Keeping up with the tech-savvy generation

Babineau says the Red Cross is using social media more and more. Across the country, staff and volunteers post program information and events on blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

Kendra Barnes, @halifaxfilmgal, says she now gets most of her information about local events from Twitter. Barnes says when she saw Red Cross' tweet, it reminded her that she hadn't been certified in 12 years and that training has changed a lot since that time.

"I thought it was a good idea [to come] because my parents are in their 70s and it's important for my family, for me to be able to know CPR because my dad hasn't been in the greatest of health," Barnes says.

Angela Pfammatter, who used the Twitter username @APfam, works for Halifax's Partners for Healthier Weight. She says not many people are trained at her clinic.

"We work with a population that's quite at risk for having cardio-vascular events." Pfammatter says, "So we thought it was really important that someone from the office knew how to save lives."

Second year for Red Cross Tweet-up

The Red Cross had its first Tweet-up in Ontario in 2010. Babineau says in 2010 the Red Cross trained 10,000 Nova Scotians in CPR. She expects there will be more Tweet-up locations across the country next year because of this year's success. She also hopes to change things up by holding the event at another university in Halifax next year.


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