December 22nd would have been Lucille Niebur’s birthday. Lucille, the founder of Emergency Skills, Inc., passed away earlier this year. I worked under her tutelage for over two decades before she retired in 2006.
As the first EMT instructor in New York City, Lucille saw firsthand the condition in which people were arriving at the hospital after medical emergencies in the workplace. This prompted her to start Emergency Skills, Inc. and write the ALIVE! First Aid course in 1977. The initial training program was 24 hours long conducted over 3 days and it covered CPR for all age groups and response to a wide range of emergencies. ALIVE! was and continues to be a comprehensive course including hands-on practice in a variety of hands-on emergency scenarios. For example, during a training program for school nurses, we created a mass casualty bus accident for class participants to practice the skills they had learned. ALIVE! was the only first aid course recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In 1990, I taught my first ALIVE! first aid class with Lucille at the Algonquin Hotel. I remember her stunning visual of “blood” on a t shirt to show participants how a little blood looks so much worse than it is. Her visual of the impaled pencil made it clear why stabilizing the object was so critical. Lucille knew how to create visually engaging courses before PowerPoint or other course videos existed.
Lucille originally ran Emergency Skills from her studio apartment in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City. As it grew, we moved to larger quarters including the 73rd floor of the Empire State Building. Now we employee 10 full time office staff and over 30 part time instructors.
She cultivated a team of dynamic instructors who captured the attention of class participants while acting out heart attacks and other medical emergencies. Lucille focused her recruitment efforts on the actors of New York City. Our instructors are distinctive in their ability to present sensitive topics in a compassionate but engaging manner. Ultimately, preparing a broad population of people to respond to medical emergencies in their workplace and home. Countless numbers of lives have been saved because of Emergency Skills, Inc. Thank you, Lucille Niebur, for your contributions to the health and well-being of New Yorkers. May you rest in peace.