CPR in the age of COVID-19: How a Pasco trainer has adapted

Jenny Robles of New Port Richey opened CPR with JR in 2015.
Jenny Robles runs her small business, CPR with JR, offering certified CPR training.
Jenny Robles runs her small business, CPR with JR, offering certified CPR training. [ Courtesy of Jenny Robles ]
Published Oct. 28, 2020

NEW PORT RICHEY — After years working in law enforcement and running a business that trained healthcare providers on basic life-support skills, Jenny Robles, 46, opened CPR with JR Inc. in 2015.

Robles offers certified training in CPR, basic first aid, emergency response and other courses, including specialized courses for teen babysitters. She partners with businesses, government agencies and schools to provide on-site classes and recently has added virtual training. On occasion, she calls on two other trainers to work with her in classes.

Robles spoke with the Tampa Bay Times about how her specialized small business has had to adapt to coronavirus safety measures.

How does one start a CPR training business, and what got you interested in this?

What led me to doing it was, I had a personal scare in the family. And it really encouraged me to say, you know what, let me open up my own business and just teach it. I already know it. I’m familiar with it. And I did everything I could to get certified.

Why is the ability to properly perform CPR so important, and who should learn it?

Everyone should learn it. We’re staying and working from home more, and our families are home, and 70 percent of cardiac emergencies, or unrelated emergencies, happen in our own home. So why not learn it?

Everybody should learn how to respond to an emergency in the first few minutes. It’s imperative before EMS (emergency medical services) arrives. It’s better to learn how to do even hands-only CPR. It’s better than doing nothing at all.

Jenny Robles of CPR with JR.
Jenny Robles of CPR with JR. [ Courtesy of Jenny Robles ]

Can you describe what classes looked like before the pandemic and what they look like now?

Before, you’re putting two people per mannequin, and you have maybe 15 individuals. You have two instructors, and you have enough equipment.

But now, if you compare that, you have six people, you have six mannequins spread apart. Each person has their own equipment. You have to take more breaks.

You’re working with a mask. Some people can’t hear, you can’t hear them. Some people are short of breath, have medical issues. You have to stop. You have to make sure that no one becomes unsafe in your class. So it becomes a little bit more challenging.

For instance, I’ve had individuals that have hearing impairments or elderly people. So you just have to try to change everything, so you can accommodate them, especially with the masks on.

The classes are not as full. That’s where you make your money — six people compared to 15 people in a class and things like that. There’s no comparison as far as the income is concerned.

How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your business, and how have you responded to it?

Before the pandemic was the best time of my career. And then all of a sudden COVID came, and I lost thousands of dollars in classes with schools being canceled, facilities and community centers closed.

I had to research and learn what other opportunities were out there. And then the American Heart Association opened up the door to where they allowed virtual training.

What do the virtual classes look like?

What I quickly did is, my partner set up a studio for me in the spare room. We set up a table in the background; we had a whole classroom situation. The individual that you’re doing the skills testing for would have completed an online portion, including simulations.

When they’ve completed their online course, ... it’s an hour of skills testing, but it consists of just me being on one side of the computer and the student being on the other side, up to five students at a time. We generally use Zoom.

We just go over everything they really should know, so that they will leave the skills testing competent and get their two-year certification. For the most part, I am working closely with three different companies just doing the virtual training. And they are in charge of sending equipment out to the individual before they even set up a skills testing.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

I’m continuing to progress, continuing to collaborate, opening the doors to the opportunities that I have now. So whether I’m doing more virtual training through the year, I’m totally open and ready for that. I’m not going to stop doing my classes.