Article taken from the 2009 Glendale-Crescenta Valley
Chapter of the
American Red Cross Newsletter


Our Chapter’s Barbara Bourland knows a good instructor when she sees one. While teaching swimming for the Boy Scouts, she met Mike Hain, who has been a Scout leader for the past 11 years, and she promptly recruited Mike as a volunteer instructor, teaching First Aid and CPR/AED for the Glendale-Crescenta Valley Chapter.

Mike’s teaching career began several years earlier, when he worked for 21st Century Insurance.  In addition to his regular job duties, Mike was responsible for First AID and CPR training for his employer and was in charge of 21st Century’s Emergency Response Team, which had 500 members in 15 locations.

Mike Hain, Volunteer Instructor

When economic conditions and workforce downsizing affected his job, Mike started his own business, Safe Place to Work (www.safeplacetowork.com), which provides training to small companies on issues such as CPR and First Aid, threats of violence in the workplace, and ergonomic evaluations, with a goal of making the workplace a more comfortable and productive environment.  Mike notes that a company can save a million dollars a year in Workers Compensation costs by teaching people proper work habits. 

Although Mike tries to inject a note of humor into his training, he’s very serious about the goals achieved in his classroom.  While trying not to stress out his students over the life-and-death nature of the training, he points out that they might use their new skills to save the life of a loved one.  “We’re here to show you how to do everything in your power to keep that person alive,” he tells the class.

“It’s all about helping people,” Mike says, and he is clearly passionate about this subject.  “I know I’m doing something that matters.”  He likes to get to know his students as people and tries different approaches in the classroom to keep everyone engaged.  For example, he reminds his students that no one expects an accident to happen. “What can you use in this room if an emergency came up?” he asks them.  “You need to use what you have right now.”

Mike employs ingenuity to keep his students’ attention in the classroom, noting that some people take First Aid and/or CPR “because they have to.”  He devises positive ways to invoke student participation, such as running a Power Point presentation and asking individual class members to read portions of the slides.  “It helps keep them interested,” he notes, and since he calls on them at random, the students are motivated to stay alert.

He also emphasizes using the powers of observation and thinking things through, rather than following a protocol by rote.  He believes there are three ways to learn:  written, oral and visual, and he employs all three in his classroom, based on the class needs and composition, to ensure that his students get the message he’s conveying. 

Mike also explains to his students the value of putting their training to work, regardless of the outcome.  He notes that there is about a 4% survival rate for victims of sudden cardiac arrest.  Therefore, someone who knows CPR shouldn’t hesitate to try it, since they really have nothing to lose.  If the victim survives, that’s wonderful, but in any case the rescuer can take comfort in knowing that at least they tried, at least they did something.

Mike’s other volunteer work encompasses both ends of the age spectrum.  In addition to his involvement with the Scouts, he volunteers at a senior citizens’ center in the Griffith Park area, where, among other activities, he joins the members of the “Socrates Café” – a discussion group that covers wide-ranging topics such as the impact of recent budget cuts on the school system.

Scouting has been an important activity for both of Mike’s children, too. His son, currently enrolled at UC Santa Cruz, moved up through Cub and Boy Scouts to become an Eagle Scout.  Mike’s daughter, a Girl Scout, enjoys having her dad volunteer with her troop.  She returns the favor by assisting Mike with his First Aid and CPR classes.  

When he’s not working on getting his new company off the ground, or volunteering to make the world a better, safer place, Mike enjoys bike riding, hiking, and crocheting.  That’s right:  crocheting.  He took up the craft during his days as a commuter on public transportation and became addicted. 

But teaching remains his clear passion.  Mike says he really enjoys the feeling when “the light bulb goes on” and he sees a student truly comprehend what he’s teaching.  He likes entertaining people while he’s teaching and goes out of his way to make the subject matter interesting and relevant.

Asked what keeps him motivated to give up his free time to help others, Mike replies simply, “When I’m gone, I want to have made a difference in someone’s life.”