2 minute readHealth & Safety

Behind the Lifesavers: Meet Red Cross Instructor Natasha Benitez

This March for #RedCrossMonth, we’re sharing inspiring stories of Red Crossers who continue to make a difference in their local community—even during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have adapted to new guidelines, protocols and procedures to help ensure we are supporting our communities when they need us most and when #HelpCantWait.

Meet Natasha Benitez, a Red Cross instructor who teaches Adult and Pediatric CPR/AED classes and Basic Life Support courses to healthcare professionals. We sat down with her -virtually – to learn more about her and what motivates her to help others.

What attracted you to the Red Cross?

“I love teaching, coaching and breaking things down to help people understand; These are some of the things that attracted me to the role as a Training Services instructor. The Red Cross has a reputation around the globe for helping people and that is what I deeply feel is my life’s purpose—to help others. I feel my best when I am in front of people teaching, inspiring, collaborating, problem-solving and exchanging ideas. I knew I would get that in my role with the Red Cross.”

What is one contribution or achievement you accomplished at the Red Cross that you are most proud of?

“I am most proud of being coined by the U.S. Army during a recent training at Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base. There was nothing out of the ordinary with this class, other than the fact I was training the Army airborne team that travels worldwide transporting our nation’s leaders. That was exciting to know! I was their instructor, I taught them lifesaving skills, and I felt proud of that. I grew up in an Air Force family. My mom, dad and sister all served, so training the U.S. military has been a highlight for me! I spoke the military talk, stood tall and proud, and they welcomed me—that was an amazing moment as a teacher!”

Does anyone in your life play a role in supporting your involvement or in providing inspiration?

“My parents are both very proud of my choice to teach for the Red Cross. My dad likes to tell me the story of how the Red Cross was there to help him when his father passed away. He was in the Air Force and needed logistical support. The Red Cross was there for him, so it’s special that I get to be there for others.”

Do you have an anecdote you would like to share that really moves you in your profession as an instructor?

“At the conclusion of class one day, a woman shared that her son died from a breathing emergency when he was 17. She described performing CPR on him until EMS arrived, but despite everyone’s efforts, he did not survive. When she shared this story with us, she said it so casually that it shook me a bit. In that moment, I realized how significant my role was as an instructor. These skills I teach will be used one day, whether I know it or not. That reinforced why I teach each class with passion, clarity and space for honest questions. I want my students to leave feeling empowered to step in and try their best to help save a life if duty calls. With kindness, love and compassion in my eyes, I listened to her and thanked her for her courage to share her story. It was a moment I’ll never forget.  We are the Red Cross!”

Do you have a message to share? (Maybe why others should take a class?)

“Sitting in a Red Cross class is a moment to be fully present and mindful. Learning a lifesaving skill in a room full of strangers (or with colleagues) could greatly impact your life forever and the life of another human. In a time where compassion and kindness are needed more than ever, it is comforting to be able to rely on the American Red Cross for this continuity in our world!”

Get Inspired & Take A Class!

If Natasha’s responses don’t encourage you enough to learn a lifesaving skill, consider how many people you can potentially impact by taking a class. You can find a variety of lifesaving training courses, from First Aid, CPR and babysitting to courses on becoming an instructor like Natasha, at redcross.org/takeaclass.