Imagine if everyone in Cenla were prepared to save a life. You can get the training you need with Start a Heart Cenla, a free bystander CPR training class. This event, made possible with the help of nearly 200 healthcare and non-healthcare professionals, teaches participants how to perform Hands Only CPR for adults, child and infant CPR, how to relieve choking in adults, children and infants, how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke.

Start a Heart Cenla will be held on Saturday, April 11, at the Alexandria Riverfront Center in Alexandria. Two training sessions will be offered during the event. The first session will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. followed by a second session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Participants must be middle-school age or older and will receive a certificate of completion, T-shirt, and most important, the skills to save a life.

Anyone can learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and everyone should. Seventy percent of Americans feel helpless to act because they don’t know how to perform CPR or their training has lapsed. Ninety-two percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims will die without immediate assistance. However, effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. With two hours of training, you will have the necessary skills to save a life.

Event coordinator David Melancon believes in this type of training and has seen first-hand how it can save someone’s life.

“There’s definitely a need for CPR training,” Melancon said. “In just two hours, we will teach participants the skills to save a life of someone who goes into cardiac arrest, which more often than not is a grandparent, a spouse, a child, or other family member living within your home. By providing this training, we will have increased the chance of a person’s meaningful survival from sudden cardiac arrest.”

Last year, volunteers trained approximately 500 participants in hands-only CPR.

Volunteers are still needed. Those who are interested should visit the Start a Heart website to sign up. There are numerous ways to help out. All volunteers will receive a Start a Heart Cenla T-shirt. Lunch will be served immediately following the close of the second session along with a drawing for door prizes.

Participants, volunteers and coaches can register for this event by visiting or by calling (877) 477-7637.