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Posted February 10, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Red Cross to hold training in Spanish

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By Josette Keelor -- Daily Staff Writer

WOODSTOCK -- A woman stands with her back hunched and arms crossed, her hands around her own throat. Many know this image as the universal sign of choking, but how many people would know what to do if they saw someone displaying that posture?

American Red Cross chapters in the Northern Shenandoah Valley offer classes in first aid, but, until recently, the instructors spoke only one language.

With the growing number of Spanish-speaking individuals in the area, a local Red Cross chapter decided to take action.

Shenandoah County will soon become the first county in the northern valley to offer cardio pulmonary resuscitation/automated external defibrillator and first aid instruction in Spanish.

"We've not had Spanish instruction in this county," says Sharon Baroncelli, executive director of the Shenandoah County chapter of the American Red Cross.

She says that beginning Spanish classes in the area will make CPR/AED and first-aid certification available to more people.

"A heart-attack doesn't discriminate," says Fabiana French, who will be teaching the Spanish classes for Shenandoah County. A local certified court interpreter and trained medical interpreter, French was recently certified as a bilingual instructor for the Red Cross.

Originally from Uruguay, French, who lives in Edinburg, moved to the United States when she was a teenager. She has volunteered with the Red Cross for years, she says.

"It's the least you can do for the community you live in," she says, explaining that volunteering just comes naturally to her.

Knowing emergency rescue procedures is useful to anyone, she says.

"You can save someone's life," she says. "Just knowing the very basics is important."

"That anyone no matter their age can learn to save a life," is an important message to the Red Cross, Baroncelli says.

For her, helping Shenandoah to become the first county in the area to teach the classes in Spanish took some time; even finding classroom materials required some searching.

The nearest location she found that offers Red Cross flyers translated into Spanish was in Charlottesville, she says, though she ultimately chose to use flyers from the Web site for the American Red Cross.

Spanish-speaking individuals know about the Red Cross, she says. "It's just a matter of reaching them and letting them know that they can take the class."

The chapter chose to implement the classes in response to community interest, Baroncelli says. The first company to ask to use the class was Pallet Recycling in Strasburg, she says.

Baroncelli has been contacting businesses around the county to gage their interest and will schedule Spanish classes according to the need, though the classes are open to anyone interested.

The first Spanish CPR/AED and first aid class will take place on Feb. 14 at the office of the Shenandoah County chapter of the American Red Cross, at 103 S. Main St. in Woodstock. The class will last for eight hours. To sign up or for more information, call 459-2913.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com

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