We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Tarea Smith-Lewis. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Tarea below.
Tarea, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. It’s always helpful to hear about times when someone’s had to take a risk – how did they think through the decision, why did they take the risk, and what ended up happening. We’d love to hear about a risk you’ve taken.
It always gives me great joy when I’m asked to share my story, because my story is a documented miracle. I met my soulmate and best friend, Andre Lewis in 2008. We exchanged vows in 2009 and we will be celebrating 13 years of marriage on May 3rd, 2022. We are a blended family of 6 adult sons and a host of grandchildren which includes a set of twins. We consider ourselves to be the “Modern Day Brady Bunch.”
Taking a life changing risk
In 2011 my husband became very ill and lost his kidney functions. His doctor diagnosed him with chronic end stage renal failure. My husband was critically ill, to the extent of being hospitalized over 13 times in a year and each time he was deathly ill. Our life appeared to be spiraling downhill at an overwhelmingly fast pace.
We were referred to the University of Miami Hospital Kidney Transplant Team, which is one of the best in the nation. Once evaluated, my husband was placed on 3 kidney transplant waiting lists. Andre had to have emergency surgery and was placed on peritoneal dialysis for 10 hours a day at home. I immediately resigned from my job and became a full-time caretaker for Andre. It was my desire to be by his side because we really didn’t know how much time we had left together.
When we took our wedding vows, we vowed to be there for one another for better, for worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, until death do us a part. As I began to acknowledge God in prayer, I felt an overwhelming inspiration to be tested to see if I qualified to be a living kidney donor for my husband. I took the leap of faith to be tested and I was a perfect match according to the doctors at the University of Miami Kidney Treatment Team. October 30, 2012, Andre and I had a successful transplant surgery, and we are doing very well to date. This was a leap of faith that awarded us both a better quality of life! I give all of the glory to God!
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I am the CEO/President of A&T Health And Safety Institute 2000 which is a certified women’s black owned local, national and international emergency response training institution. My Husband initially introduced me to the health and safety industry. Andre retired from the Department of Juvenile Justice as a Sergeant/ Sr. Health and Safety Instructor due to his health. Moving forward he continued his journey as an American Heart Association Regional Faculty Instructor and became my mentor and business partner. To date we co-own A&T Health.
I am currently an American Heart Association Training Site, AHA Community Equity Board Consultant, as well as a certified Health and Safety Instructor for several international training institutions. My company specializes in teaching emergency response techniques such as CPR, AED, First AID for Adults/Pediatrics, “AVERT” ( Active Violence Emergency Response Training ) While other programs focus solely on active shooter or stop the bleed, AVERT goes beyond by combining both of these important topics in a blended training program. We sell essential life saving equipment such as Zoll AED Products and Mobilized Comprehensive Rescue Systems with a built in android tablet and interactive instructional rescue app.
Accidents, medical emergencies, and acts of violence can occur without notice. Treatment in the first few minutes has a significant impact on patient outcomes. Our qualified contracted instructors provide lifesaving emergency response training to bystanders to empower them in case of an unforeseen emergency such as sudden cardiac arrest.
What sets A&T Health And Safety Institute 2000 apart from others is our niche marketing approach. We present products and training that we specialize in. We concentrate on health and safety training which gives us an advantage over our competitors.
I have incorporated my own core values into my business. I am most proud of providing health and safety training certification scholarships to Lotus House Homeless Shelter in Historic Over Town Miami, HSI Homeland Security Explorers, Faces Learning Academy, The B-Moms Foundation (Bereaved Moms) and several inner city entities in conjunction with Tiandre’s Treasure Chest Foundation Inc. which is my Non- Profit 501(c3) Organization.
A&T Health has partnered with the American Heart Association to teach Hands-Only CPR in the inner cities, such as Florida City, Florida with Former Vice Mayor Avis Brown, the City of Miramar, with Former Vice Mayor Darlene Riggs and the City of Miami Gardens with Former Mayor Oliver Gilbert. We taught over 4,000 participants in Hands-only CPR and each participant received an American Heart Association Blow-up Manikin Kit to take home to keep their skills current.
A&T Health currently partners with Steven Cain, CEO of Fire, Life and Safety Associates in Hamilton, Bermuda. We trained and certified the elite Firefighters of Bermuda in 2019. We are currently making plans to return to Bermuda on April 28th of 2022 to teach an Instructor Candidate Training Course.
A&T Health has also trained and certified over 400 HSI Homeland Security agents as well as a host of Government, City and US Military personnel.
It’s extremely important for everyone to know that if someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest, it is essential to start CPR within minutes even though emergency personnel are in route. If CPR is not initiated it could lead to brain injury, damage and even death, also severe bleeding can become fatal in 3-5 minutes and airway complications can cause hypoxic brain death in as little as six minutes. It is critical that ordinary citizens be prepared to deal with unexpected emergencies until help arrives.
If you could go back, would you choose the same profession, specialty, etc.?
If I had to go back, I would choose the same industry because I feel as though I am adding value, wisdom and knowledge to individuals, families and corporations on an international platform. I poll my participants at the beginning of each training and I’ve discovered that the majority of our clients would not attempt to render care in an unforeseen emergency prior to our training because they are afraid to be sued, they panic, or they simply don’t know what to do. Knowledge is power! The good Samaritan law is definitely covered in our training programs.
The knowledge that I share can potentially extend a life. It is intrinsically rewarding to see my clients get highly engaged in their individual performance skill training components. It fuels my passion and creative ability to keep each student focused and inspired to learn.
Many of our participants have reached back out to me to share testimonials of how they used some of the techniques that they were taught in training to help a family member that was choking or has gone into sudden cardiac arrest. They share how they felt empowered to perform rescue techniques and their success stories.
I know in my heart that I am definitely in my lane. I love what I do!
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
I think that the quality service that I provide has built my reputation within my market. I personalize each training for my clients that will foster the tools that are needed for their employees to succeed. Secondly, the training material we use from our various governing entities are designed to be straightforward and easy to comprehend. Therefore, our participants are able to grasp the key elements of the training. I understand that customers value, monetary cost, quality training and incentives such as product benefit. Lastly, I strive for consistency in the services I provide.
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