ELIZABETH, NJ - When Lyman Thompson worked for Roselle Park, he saw a lot of people needing help. Then one day, he was one of those people.
"I had a heart attack five years ago," Thompson said. "I flat lined and one of my coworkers brought me back with CPR. That inspired me to take the training myself."
Thompson, a person with developmental disabilities and member of Community Access Unlimited (CAU), got that opportunity recently when CAU offered CPR and First Aid Training to its members. In June, Thompson and four other members with disabilities passed the course and became CPR- and first aid-certified.
The training, certified by the American Red Cross, entailed a five-hour course, including working with dummies to learn proper techniques for CPR and to become first aid-certified.
Aiden Bolan is one of the course graduates. When he was young his brother collapsed and was saved by his mother performing CPR. That inspired him to take the class now.
"My mom followed all the steps we learned," he said. "I want to be able to help people out there."
Lee and Christine Bongiovi, who are married, took the class because they have a 15-year-old son.
"I thought it would be a long course but we picked it up quickly," said Lee Bongiovi, who was previously CPR-certified but felt he needed a refresher.
"Their attitudes were amazing," said Jonathan Jones, director of community integration and respite services at CAU. "We really haven't seen anything like this before. People have doubts that people with disabilities are able to learn CPR and first aid. But they're very capable and our members passed the test and can perform it. I'm 100 percent sure these members can perform the tasks required of them."
Added Joshua Bradley, director of quality assurance and training at CAU, "They asked a lot of inquisitive questions I normally wouldn't get in a regular class. I knew in 10 minutes they would all pass."
Community Access Unlimited is a statewide nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as youth served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enable them to live independently in the community, providing supports in areas including housing, vocational skills and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation.
For more information about CAU and its services, contact them by phone at 908-354-3040, online at www.caunj.org or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.