Lesson of the day: saving lives

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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St. Peter’s Junior High School students volunteer for AED training

With the word of “clear” from her co-rescuer, St. Peter’s Junior High School student Emily Garlie halted compressions on her plastic “victim,” pulling her hands back, in practice use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) in her school gym Wednesday.

St. John Ambulance partnered with St. Peter’s Junior High in Mount Pearl to train teens to use an automated external defibrillator and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Above, Grade 8 students Matt Janes and Emily Garlie receive training from St. John Ambulance instructor Mahmud Hasan (centre). See video at www.thetelegram.com.
— Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

The Mount Pearl school, in partnership with St. John Ambulance, offered AED training to interested Grade 8 and Grade 9 students.

The course included basic training of what to do in the case of a sudden cardiac arrest, including use of the increasingly prolific AED.

Emily already had a background in first aid, working her way toward a lifeguarding certification. She still volunteered for the training session.

“It was actually really easy because the AED talks to you and will take you through every step,” she said. “It tells you exactly what you have to do, so anybody can use it, but it’s important to get the training.”

She and her co-rescuer Matthew Janes felt their training had the potential to be life-saving at some point in the future.

“I thought it was just important to learn how to use one, in case you ever get into a situation where you need to,” Matthew said.

“It’s better to have it as a skill than not have it.”

He spoke about the benefit of adding to a speedy response in the case of an emergency situation and said he liked the idea of being able to help, if possible, while waiting for emergency responders.

The school-based CPR-AED course has added 107 people to the eight to 10 staff previously trained on the school’s AED device.

It has also exponentially increased the number of potential responders in the community at large.

For St. Peter’s principal Cecilia Kennedy, providing the option for the training was seen as another way to add to a broad learning experience the faculty and administration have committed to providing at the school.

“And obviously this is something that they can carry with them forever,” she said. “Not only can it benefit them, it can benefit others they may encounter as well.”

According to information provided by St. John Ambulance, research has shown individuals 13 and 14 years old can successfully perform the chest compressions required for CPR. Combined with AED use, the process dramatically increases the likelihood of a positive outcome in the case of an emergency involving sudden cardiac arrest.

“The nice thing about AEDs is there’s not a lot of technical things about AEDs,” said Mahmud Hasan, a volunteer of more than six years with St. John Ambulance and instructor for the school session.

“Once we give them the training, they’re much more accustomed to the voice prompt. They know exactly what to do, what happens, what the voice prompt is going to say after what — so they’re very used to the process of using an AED.”

In early February, The Telegram spoke with a representative for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, who said the goal is to ultimately have an AED installed in all of the province’s schools, beginning with 43 schools identified as at-risk, with students with an existing heart condition.

The school event at St. Peter’s Junior High was the second such training event put off by St. John Ambulance. Training was previously offered, in November, to more than 100 students at Holy Trinity High School in Torbay, where an AED had been purchased and installed.

“If interested schools would like to get in touch with us, we’ll certainly see what we can do to set up a session like this,” said Roberta Hewitt, spokeswoman for St. John Ambulance.

The course was offered, in both cases to date, at no cost to the students or the school.



Organizations: Mount Pearl school, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Holy Trinity High School

Geographic location: Torbay

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