'Empowering parents': Beachside Certifications teaching skills that save lives — human and animal

Jennie McKeon
Gili Woodhams instructs Christina Wolfe on how to properly deliver CPR on the canine manikin.


Beachside Certifications will be hosting a Pet First Aid class from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m Jan. 18. The Doggy Bag will be on site with goodies from their bakery. Other classes that day include a Wilderness First Aid class from 12 to 2 p.m. A CPR, AED & First Aid Certification class will follow from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Jan. 25. All classes will be held at the Destin Community Center, located at 101 Stahlman Ave. For more information on these classes, or to schedule a private lesson, visit www.beachsidecertifications.com.

It was one story in particular that made Sherry Blauner, a local social worker, become a certified CPR and first aid trainer.

"The mother was on a field trip with her older son, so dad was alone with six-month old baby," she explained. "The baby had a cold, so dad put him down for a nap. When dad went to check on him later baby wasn't breathing. He called 911 right away and they guided him through infant CPR. Unfortunately the baby didn't make it. This could've happened to anyone — even me. eHeHHe did everything he was supposed to do, but he didn't feel comfortable — like he didn't do enough."

As a social worker, Blauner's full-time job is to equip parents with the necessary resources for a happy, healthy life. Offering CPR and first-aid training was a perfect addition.

"I want parents to feel empowered," she said. "Statistics show that when you are CPR trained, you will probably use those skills on someone you love. Do you know what to do if someone is choking? Little things like that can be life or death."

Blauner founded Beachside Certifications, LLC about a year and a half ago. Since then, she has provided first-aid education for around 375 individuals from Calloway to Pensacola. She's even had to add three other trainers to meet the needs of the area.

"I've learned how interested our community is in education," she said. "Grandparents come to us because they'll have their grandkids coming for spring break, and in the spring we also offer water safety, educating people on the beach flags and where lifeguard stations are, as well as CPR."

What separates Beachside from other first-aid classes is its inclusion of first aid for cats and dogs.

"Just from talking to people, I realized the need for education about fur babies," Blauner said. "I know personally, I would give my dog a kidney — you know if our blood types matched up."

The pet first aid certification educates students on what to do if a pet gets hurt, how to safely muzzle them, attend to broken bones and stabilize the pet for the veterinarian. Individuals ages 14 and older are candidates for certification, although all ages are invited to take in the training.

Certification classes are offered regularly at Destin Community Center, or can be scheduled for private sessions.

Blauner herself has been certified in CPR and first aid annually since 1997 — back then she was a flight attendant.

"I actually had to give CPR once," she said. "We were flying from Kona, Hawaii, to Chicago and an elderly gentleman collapsed. My training immediately kicked in. I started doing CPR and even had to attach the AED (automated external defibrillator) and deliver a shock. Luckily, we had an EMT on the flight who was able to administer advanced help."

Today, Blauner points out that the American Safety and Health Institute (ASHI) even has smart phone apps with instructions to keep CPR skills fresh in your mind.

When it comes to training, Blauner said she has the same standards that airlines place on their staff.

"We try to make it very realistic," she said. "It's not just about checking a box on a piece of paper. You can save someone's life."