District 218 nurses train nealry 700 students in CPR
As the school nurses in District 218 set out this semester to train freshmen in life-saving techniques, they noted a trend. During their weeklong workshops at Richards, Shepard and Eisenhower high schools, students confided that they had suffered choking incidents.
“It’s even more common than having to do CPR,” said Janet Callahan, the nurse at Shepard. “Many of the students said they had been victims of choking themselves, so I think now they understand the importance of the training and have confidence assisting someone who is in distress.”
Over the course of three weeks, the nurses trained nearly 700 students in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, intervention with choking victims, use of automated external defibrillators, and other life-saving techniques.
“Statistically 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur within the home. Unless CPR is given within minutes of collapse, few attempts of resuscitation are successful. Therefore, effective CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. Many students felt confident after completing the week lesson and felt confident with their skills,” said Maureen Featherstone, the nurse at Eisenhower.
The nurses found students maintained their focus during training.
“They were cooperative, enthusiastic, and engaged in the training,” said Peggy Gbur, the nurse at Richards. “Their questions were well thought out. For example, one student asked ‘if they are choking and pass out, why would you blow into their mouth?’ It was a great question, and a good discussion followed. They related it to experiences they had at home with loved ones.”
Helping someone who’s choking or experiencing cardiac arrest can overwhelm anyone with fear or uncertainty. The nurses, however, felt that students felt pretty confident after training.
“They felt empowered. You could feel their excitement and energy. I feel it was very worthwhile and hope to continue to train our young students,” Gbur said.
The nurses related personal experiences in life saving to the students.
“I performed CPR at a college campus and not one other person was certified in CPR. That situation has always made me realize that we need to get as many people trained in CPR as possible,” said Margaret Eber, the nurse at Delta Learning Center and Summit Learning Center.
Certification only lasts a couple of years before expiring. It impressed Eber that students thought that far ahead.
“They asked when and where they can get recertified,” she said.
Students also talked about the potential circumstances where they might need to save a life.
“Some of the students said they babysit for their siblings or neighbors. They’re glad they will know how to react in an emergency. Others said they were interested in health care as a career and that CPR certification will be needed,” Eber said.
When the nurses finished at each school, they performed an assessment to measure the effectiveness of the training.
“The evaluation day was such a positive experience,” Eber said. “We were able to work with small groups to assess what the students had learned. To see the students practicing what they had learned and realizing that they could respond in an actual emergency was pretty inspiring.”
“All in all it was very worthwhile,” Gbur said. “I had some students thank me the week after we finished. I also was testing them with a question or two when they came in the office.”
She would ask them ‘how many compressions and breaths would you do for CPR?’
“And guess what? They said with a smile ‘30 compressions to 2 breaths.’ So, yeah, they did learn,” Gbur said.