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Long time instructor hands over teaching reins for CPR, first aid classes

MADAWASKA, Maine — A familiar face to most anyone who has taken a cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid class locally in the the past couple of decades is stepping down after helping to train his replacement. 

Percy Thibeault of Frenchville, who has been a police officer in Madawaska and worked for the Madawaska Ambulance Department, has over the years helped coordinate medical training for both medical professionals and the general public.

After 46 years of public service in various capacities, Thibeault said Thursday that paramedic Kris Albert would be taking over many of those teaching duties.

Albert, a Madawaska native, works for the Madawaska ambulance service and recently completed his CPR instructor training under Thibeault.

Kris Albert (Don Eno)

“I’m excited to serve the community and do some teaching,” Albert said Thursday. Besides teaching CPR, he also will offer basic first aid classes.

“It’s time for me to move on,” Thibeault said. “I’m excited to pass on the baton. I am glad to have a young instructor willing to take it on,”

Thibeault, now a retired paramedic, started his emergency medical career in the early 1980s while working as Madawaska police officer.

The importance of being able to provide pre-hospital care and knowing what to do in an emergency situation hit him when he was confronted with having to deal with a young child choking at a local store.

“That’s what got me started,” Thibeault said.

In 1980, Thibeault earned his emergency medical technician license and he soon was working for the Madawaska Ambulance Department. From there he began teaching CPR and first aid classes to school groups, community organizations and nursing home staffers.

“A lot of it was educating the public about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack,” he said, adding that it is vital people know what to look for.

“I also spoke to them about the risk factors and how to prevent having a heart attack,” he said.

Thibeault became a paramedic in 1996 and began to teach more advanced sessions to fellow EMS and medical professionals in the area.

He also taught most of the annual CPR sessions required for town employees by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Albert will be taking over those duties as well, Thibeault said.

Percy Thibeault (Don Eno)

The CPR that Thibeault taught and that Albert now will teach is based on the American Heart Association curriculum. There are classes for healthcare providers and another for laypersons, referred to as the Heartsaver course.

The Heartsaver course, which is about three hours long, focuses on one-person CPR and emphasizes performing chest compressions.

“We try to teach people to not be afraid to do chest compressions and CPR,” Thibeault said.

The goal, Thibeault said, is to get people “competent and confident,” rather than to make them experts in CPR and cardiac health.

Doing chest compressions, at a minimum, helps keep some blood circulating to the brain and other vital organs, he said.

Anyone interested in scheduling a CPR course may contact Albert at the Madawaska Ambulance Department by calling 728-6126.

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