How to Save a Life

Lifesaver Education instructor Nancy Bridges teaches a Basic Life Support class. Photos by Kamala Kirk

Being trained in CPR and First Aid are invaluable when a medical emergency occurs, and according to the American Heart Association, a majority of Americans either don’t know how to perform CPR or perform it incorrectly. Lifesaver Education in South Pasadena is an American Heart Association Training Center that offers a variety of certification classes in First Aid and CPR to medical professionals and the general public. 

Lifesaver Education was started by Bethanie Christopher in 2005. She had been working as a registered nurse for many years when she decided that she wanted to open her own business. While renewing her Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification at a training site in Orange County, Christopher had the opportunity to franchise the business. After training and becoming an instructor, she eventually discovered that the training center wasn’t following the American Heart Association policies, so she branched out on her own—and Lifesaver Education was born.

“I started Lifesaver Education in my house across the street from Huntington Hospital,” Christopher said. “Then I started outgrowing the space, and I wanted a place where my children could walk to after school if they needed me. One day I saw a ‘For Lease’ sign outside a building off Fair Oaks and Huntington Drive, which used to be a mortgage company. I took the leap and moved the company to this space in 2006, and we’ve been here ever since.”

Christopher teaches a Saturday morning class.

Christopher remains a registered nurse, but instead of working in a hospital, her focus is on teaching and education. Lifesaver Education provides hands-on classes for small groups with personalized instruction. Classes offered include Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Ventilator Training, as well as various CPR and First Aid certification courses. Its students run the gamut from healthcare and childcare workers to teachers and fitness trainers—and anyone else who is interested. Lifesaver Education also provides courses for people that want to be First Aid and CPR instructors, and it’s starting to offer Red Cross classes as well.

The cost for a class is between $50 and $190, plus a small fee for materials. Classes typically range in size from eight to 16 people, depending on the course. They tend to fill up quickly due to their intimate size, so Christopher advises signing up in advance on Lifesaver Education’s website, which is easy to navigate, lists all of the course offerings, and allows you to pay and register online. The company is also in the process of switching to eCards, which students receive right after they successfully complete classes.

A mannequin is ready for a class demonstration.

“We offer classes seven days a week, and most of them are a blended learning format,” Christopher explained. “What that means is that people can go online and complete the first portion of the class, then they come here and do their skills testing. Classes are typically three-and-a-half to four hours long, although some of the advanced courses can last up to 10 hours. We have evening and weekend classes as well. Our group classes start at 9 a.m. during the week and at 8 a.m. on the weekend, although we sometimes do classes as early as 5 a.m. During the week, many people need to drop their kids off at school first, and on weekends, it’s nice to get an early start so they can go get other stuff done. We try to accommodate everyone’s schedules.”

All of the instructors employed by Lifesaver Education have medical backgrounds, with many of them working as nurses, EMTs, paramedics and physicians. Christopher’s eldest son was previously an instructor, and she said that her kids “knew CPR before they could take a CPR class.”

Nancy Bridges has been an instructor at Lifesaver Education for the past seven years, in addition to working as a fulltime nurse manager in the operating room at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “It’s a great place that is really based in the American Heart Association,” she said. “You can ensure that if you take a course here, it follows their guidelines and the equipment is well-maintained. You have everything here that you need to be successful in the courses.”

Bethanie Christopher founded Lifesaver Education after working as a registered nurse for many years.

In addition to group classes, Lifesaver Education also offers one-on-one classes for skills testing, and tutoring for those that want extra time with an instructor. They also give on-site classes at different facilities like dental offices and City of Hope, and they participate in various community events like the American Heart Association Pasadena Heart Walk at the Rose Bowl. During the first week of June, which is National CPR Awareness Week, Christopher and her team will be doing their annual hands-on CPR event at the local Farmers Market.

“At the end of the day, our primary goal at Lifesaver Education is to provide quality classes,” Christopher said. “Because the truth of the matter is that we’re talking about saving people’s lives here—and we don’t feel like we can compromise in any way when it comes to that.”

Lifesaver Education is located at 1510 and 1518 Huntington Drive. Its office hours are Mon. –Fri. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (626) 441-3406 or visit