Hennepin County workhouse residents take CPR classes to save lives

- Residents sentenced to the Hennepin County workhouse have a new class offering that officials hope might one day save a life.

Hennepin County is now offering CPR courses inside its facilities after a workhouse resident saved the life of a man last summer. A sanitation company executive collapsed at a sorting site in Bloomington after suffering a massive heart attack.  A workhouse resident on a job assignment with the company immediately initiated CPR and saved the man’s life.

STORY: Hennepin County work-release inmate saves life of company exec

The CPR classes take place at Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility, better known as the workhouse.

For many of the women at the facility, it is the first time they’ve ever learned CPR.

Jordan, 26, is serving a 40 to 50-day sentence for drunk driving violations. But, she’s committed to making better choices and has already taken a parenting class on the inside. Now, she’s adding some life-saving skills to her toolbox as she looks forward to her second chance.

“I do work outside of here and I do think it's helpful,” Jordan said. “I have a lot of older people who come to my work. It would be nice for someone who is working to know CPR.” 

This women's facility, with locked cells, has 78 beds. It serves offenders who are facing a year or less in jail. Most of the residents have the opportunity to come and go for work privileges.

The facility offers a full slate of classes and life enhancement programs. CPR is the latest addition.

"It's kind of a morale booster,” Holly Ihrke, a case management assistant at the Adult Corrections Facility, said. “They're walking out of here with a certificate that they can put on their job applications, giving them another tool. For some, it's their first certificate ever. They feel they can use this to get jobs."

One person who thinks the class is an absolute necessity is Wayne Molck, the company executive whose life was saved by a workhouse resident out on a job site last year.

"Massive heart attack, just collapsed, didn't feel anything. [I] didn't know anything until I woke up in the hospital,” Molck said.

Wayne is now 73 and he insists he's in the best shape of his life. But a year ago, he was basically dead, his heart was 99 percent blocked after the Molck collapsed at the sorting site. Fortunately for him, a workhouse resident by the name of Derek Dejonker who was working at the site knew exactly what to do and helped save his life by immediately initiating CPR.

"I've said it too many times; I'm just amazed that I am still here,” Molck said. “Lucky, but it's not luck. Derek knew what to do."

It was Molck's life and death episode that Fox 9 featured last August that led Hennepin County to introduce CPR classes.

The goal is to train as many of the residents as possible so they're ready for an emergency situation, wherever that may be.

“If it's behind that and one life gets saved somewhere down the road because of it, that's fantastic,” Molck said.

“I’m leaving here with more than what I came in with,” Alexa, a workhouse resident who took the course, said. “So I kind of look at it as a blessing in disguise, it saved my life. And being able to help save someone else's life is a lot better too."

The CPR course is still considered a test program. The Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility has already done three courses with a fourth already on the calendar for next month over on the men's side.

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