Ready To Lend A Hand
It could happen at home. It could happen at school. It could happen anywhere.
And now thanks to training this year in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), dozens of Sheboygan Falls Middle and High School students will be ready to offer potentially life saving skills if they encounter an emergency situation.
“You never know when this could happen,” said school nurse Lisa Hackbarth, who helped physical education teachers with the training. “We focused students on being confident in the skill, and that they had something they could do to help save a life.”
The training, known as “hands only” training, used kits and information from the American Heart Association. It differs from full CPR training in that students did not learn mouth to mouth resuscitation. Instead, the two step training involves first calling 911 for help then applying pressure to the chest in order to restore breathing to someone who has collapsed from cardiac arrest.
The training was offered to students taking seventh and eighth grade health classes as well as students in freshman physical education classes. The impetus for the training was a new state law requiring CPR training in any health education class offered to students in 7th through 12th grades. The law also requires students to be taught about AEDs (automated external defibrillators).
At Sheboygan Falls Middle School, physical education teacher Lindsey Schreurs offered a one-day workshop on hands-only CPR. Students watched a video and practiced on mannequins. They also learned about the average response time of emergency responders (8 minutes) and how having someone apply CPR during that time can literally save lives.
According to the American Heart Association, using immediate hands-only CPR can double or even triple the odds of a person surviving an attack.
“The motto is that some CPR is better than no CPR,” said Schreurs. “It significantly increases the odds of survival.”
She said the training went well and students seemed attentive and focused. The mannequins had a mechanism inside that clicked when students pressed hard enough on the chest. That was especially helpful to remind students how hard the compressions need to be, Schreurs added. The American Heart Association recommends compressions for an average adult should be about two inches into the chest.
At Sheboygan Falls High School, physical education teacher Matt Pfister offered a 70-minute training to his classes. At the end three-student teams competed with each other to see who could respond the fastest.
The American Heart Association suggests that compressions be administered at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute. To help students learn that pace, they practiced compressions while listening to the Bee Gees hit “Stayin’ Alive,” whose rhythm includes beats of 100 to 120 per minute.
Pfister also talked with students about other ways to help during an emergency situation such as crowd control. They discussed different places where an emergency could happen – students who have a part-time job could be called to respond there. Other students might have to respond at home to an emergency concerning parents or grandparents.
He was pleased with the students’ response.
“I think this is something that will stay with them,” he said.
He appreciated Hackbarth’s participation, noting that she was able to offer some information from her medical training that he did not have.
Before she became a school nurse, Hackbarth worked in an emergency room for 20 years where she saw first-hand what happens if someone collapses and there is no one available to give CPR right away.
“There’s no feeling more helpless than to stand there and not be able to help,” she said.
She believes that training students in CPR is especially critical in light of the current opioid crisis.
“I think it’s really, really important these days,” she said. “It truly could be a friend who needs help.”