‘Time in prison’ inspires Vacaville woman to start her own business

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VACAVILLE — Robert Larsen Jr. wasn’t feeling well when he arrived home from work.

“He said he had been confused at work and his computer work was hard (that day),” Lisa Larsen said of that fateful evening Sept. 23, 2020, a day after her husband’s 57th birthday.

“And he was dragging one of his legs, but he does that when his back hurts,” she said.

But something did not feel right, so Lisa Larsen made a small request of her husband.

“I told him to smile,” she said.

When he could not fully smile, she took his blood pressure, which was soaring. Larsen suspected her husband was having a stroke, so she drove him to the hospital.

“Then they called for a stroke alert, and that’s when it became real,” she said.

For her quick thinking and recognition of the symptoms of a stroke, and for her preventive steps, Larsen was recently presented with the Red Cross Certificate of Merit – the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual.

“Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross Training Services course helped to save the life of Larsen’s husband,” the Red Cross noted in a statement.

Larsen had worked around medical professionals a great deal during her 25 years as an employee at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.

“Oh gosh, I could write a book,” Larsen said of her varied experiences in a handful of departments, mostly doing office-related work.

“Just in the mailroom alone,” she said, noting it was in the mailroom where she started. One of her duties was to read the letters coming in and out. The contents of those letters, she said, could be pretty harrowing.

“Nothing you could publish,” she said during a phone interview Thursday.

But it was during her nearly seven years working in nursing education where she acquired her first aid skills. She said the nurses were often called out of the classroom to attend to an emergency or some other duty, so the prison administration decided to qualify her to teach the course.

That started in 2015, “and now I have my own business,” Larsen said. The name of the business is CPR Time.

She contracts with businesses and conducts other training classes for the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.

Larsen said she does not know if she would have recognized her husband’s symptoms had she not received the training.

“Maybe I would have recognized he was having a stroke, maybe. I don’t know,” she said.

Despite starting the business in February 2020, a month before the Covid-19 emergency was declared, she has built the business up from four courses a month to six.

“And last month, I don’t think I had a day off,” Larsen said.

Robert Larsen, who served in the Air Force for more than 20 years and now works in a civilian position at the base, is also an instructor.

“He’s recovered almost completely,” Larsen said of her husband, who recently purchased a tricycle motorbike, which she also likes to take out for a spin.

“I’ve been riding a long time; he’s just learning,” Larsen said.

Born in Rodeo, her family moved to San Pablo. She came to Vacaville in 1991 with her first husband, and six months later was working in the prison.

She and her current husband were married July 4, 2007.

Larsen said he is working to bring the medical training course to high schools throughout Solano County, which would include basic first aid as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and other lifesaving lessons.

“I think that is very important,” Larsen said.

Any business or organization interested in having the course taught can contact Larsen at CPRTime.com. A variety of online, in-person and online and in-person courses are available through the Red Cross as well. Learn more at redcross.org/takeaclass.

If anyone knows someone who has used skills learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain the life of another individual, visit LifesavingAwards.org to nominate, recognize or be inspired.

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