VERSAILLES — Katey Litten is a fourth-grader who recently learned compression-only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), at Versailles Elementary School.
“I learned how to save peoples’ lives,” she said. “It was kind of easy and kind of hard. I need to learn how to save peoples’ lives, so if someone needs help; then I need to help them.”
Versailles Exempted Village School District School Nurse Tracy Cordonnier has been teaching the fourth-graders compression-only CPR, due to the requirements of achieving the Heart Safe School Accreditation. This accreditation is dedicated to helping schools develop campus-wide response and communication methods in case of cardiac emergencies. According to Cordonnier, one of the requirements to achieving the accreditation was that each school in the district had students trained in at least hands-only CPR.
“The high school sophomores have been getting full CPR/Automated External Defibrillators (AED) education for four years now,” Cordonnier said. “In addition, eighth-grade students have been getting a one-day session about how to provide CPR for three years. I simply needed to teach the elementary students. Many of the other requirements are already in place, so getting the Heart Safe Accreditation should be fairly simple for the district.”
A learning tool Cordonnier chose to use for the fourth-graders is the “Hands On Practical Experience” (HOPE) Program, due to its simplicity, she said. HOPE, a partnership in community health and welfare between the Health and Safety Institute, Fairfield Medical Center, and the Gordon B. Snider Cardiovascular Institute, is a 45- minute course in chest compression-only CPR. The students were provided with instructions and sent away with a print-out of how to perform the CPR. The steps involved are the following: assess the person; call 911; give continuous, uninterrupted chest compressions; continue compressions and turn on an AED, if available. Students, in twos, practiced on mannequins, with both the chest compressions and the AED. Cordonnier kept the students engaged with her highly spirited explanations about the CPR process and the function of an AED.
“Have you ever had the electricity go off and your mother says, ‘Oh we must have blown a fuse’?,” she asked the students. “Then what happened? They go downstairs and find that grey box, your mom and dad open the lid, they find a switch and they flip the breaker. The light turns back on and it fixes the electric that is going through there. This box (AED) fixes the electric in a person’s heart. When they push this button, it is like a big slap in the face. It is saying, ‘Straighten up heart!’ And the heart says ‘OK’.”
Cordonnier taught the students two songs to remember the pace at which chest compressions are administered during CPR: “Staying Alive” and “Another one Bites the Dust”. These songs keep the hands pushing between 100-120 beats per minute. Versailles fourth-grade math and spelling teacher Jeremy Riley said the CPR lesson is fantastic and a great life-lesson for the students.
“These kids could be with someone that has a real-life situation like this, and if nothing else, they could at least do the hands-on CPR,” he said. “That will increase the likelihood of someone being able to survive.”
According to statistics from HOPE, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) strikes about 360,000 people in the United States annually, with less than 10 percent surviving. Eighty percent of all SCAs happen at home, with 60 percent of those being witnessed. Compression-only CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, according to the research.
“It’s never to young to learn,” Cordonnier said.”People feel helpless if they don’t know what to do. If they can do something, they will feel more empowered.”
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