Westport residents and town employees who are interested in getting trained in first aid and CPR are in luck.

The Westport Volunteer Emergency Services (WVEMS) Board of Directors has voted to continue to provide free American Heart Association (AHA) "HeartSaver" CPR classes for Westport residents and Westport Town employees. This life-saving course covers adult, child and infant CPR as well as obstructed airway management, including training and practice on the Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). The usual requested donation is $40 per student for the class.

From July 1, 2009 through June 30 of this year, WVEMS conducted 112 classes and trained 792 individuals in CPR and/or first aid -- of which 500 individuals were Westport residents. WVEMS also conducts AHA HealthCare Provider classes for those people who require more advance training.

Classes take between two and-a-half to four hours, and upon successful completion of a course students receive a course completion card with a suggested renewal date of two years.

Classes have been taught to a wide range of participants including employees at Westport Town Hall, Westport Public Library, Westport Center for Senior Activities and the Westport/Weston Health District. In addition, WVEMS has trained life guards; Compo Camp counselors; nannies; Staples High School students; coaches; teachers and nursing staff; area doctors and dentists; health club employees; Westport police; EMS personnel; boy and girl scout leaders; and other individuals looking to be prepared to help save a life.

Most classes take place at 50 Jesup Road at the Westport Police Department classrooms.

Westport has been designated a HeartSafe Community by the Connecticut Department of Public Health based upon the number of classes offered, number of students and the number of AEDs that have been placed in various facilities in Westport. The CPR/first aid training programs are supported by contributions to WVEMS and fees for classes taught to heath care professionals and non-Westport residents.

You can see a schedule of classes by going to www.westportems.org and clicking on "Classes" or by calling the CPR phone line at 203-341-6030.