Maintaining health and safety:: Fort Drum

A group of 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers perform CPR during a CPR and First Aid certification course on Nov. 9. This is a free life skills course offered through the Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Drum Fort soldiers learn life-saving skills through BOSS

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs Department

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (November 13, 2023) — One of the three pillars of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program focuses on life skills training. This covers everything from balancing a checkbook and cooking healthy meals at the barracks, to performing basic maintenance on vehicles and learning how to swim.

Many of these activities tend to benefit an individual’s quality of life and well-being. But when soldiers at Fort Drum took a CPR and first aid certification course on Nov. 9, they had the health and safety of others in mind.

“It’s a good skill to know because it makes the workplace safer,” said Sgt. Keegan Murphy, Vice President of Fort Drum BOSS. “I know if someone needs CPR, I have the ability to administer it and potentially save a life.”

Staff Sgt. Natasha Shoemaker, a member of the 548th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, had her family in mind when she signed up for the course.

“I have three little girls at home and I want to make sure I know the proper first aid procedures if something happens,” she said. “I also want to do this for my Soldiers because we go to the battlefield a lot and if we don’t have medical personnel around, I want to be able to respond.”

Rob Mushtare is the chief recreation specialist for the Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorates and has about a decade of experience as a CPR instructor. During that time, he said, no one failed his class.

“I always make sure everyone who takes the class understands all the instructions,” he said. “My job is to make sure they learn the material, and I’m proud that I haven’t had any failures yet.”

A combination of classroom and hands-on instruction enables Soldiers to learn rescue ventilation and chest compression procedures and then perform them on a CPR manikin. The realistic training aid mimics lung function and features internal lighting that simulates blood flow.

Mushtare said students always calm their anxiety early on when they are faced with the reality of having to apply textbook material to real-world scenarios.

“People sometimes get a little nervous that they might have to use this knowledge to save lives,” he said. “So, then I try to talk to them about that and get them to relax and realize that they’re going to be able to actually do this.”

If Shoemaker had any concerns about her ability to perform CPR, she didn’t show it.

“I feel really comfortable doing this,” Shoemaker said. “You can watch how to do it on a video, but it’s much better to practice and experience it through hands-on training.”

Murphy said some people might think it’s just another training class, but he said it can have a profound impact on someone’s life.

“The more people who understand these skills, the more likely good things will happen,” he said. “You never know if that person is going to be a loved one, a friend, a friend of a friend, or a co-worker. You never know when something is going to happen to someone, and the sooner you start providing care for that person, the more likely you are to Help save that person’s life. That’s why this is important.”

To learn more about the Fort Drum BOSS program, visit or call (315) 772-7807.

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