February 29, 2016—Health classes last week at Cohoes High School were devoted to teaching students cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using an automated external defibrillator (AED), as part of a state mandate that went into effect in October. The mandate requires all high schools in New York to provide instruction of hands-only CPR and how to use AEDs to students.
The class was taught by School Nurse Alex Beaury, who was formerly a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Peter's hospital. She was a part of the Code Team, which responded to all emergencies in the hospital such as patients who stop breathing, go into cardiac arrest or have a stroke, for example.
“This CPR mandate is so important for our students, because they’ll soon be living on their own and they need to know how to respond to an emergency,” said Ms. Beaury. “Whether at college, out in the working world or their social world, they will know how to help in any crisis situation.”
Students conveyed their satisfaction with the training to Ms. Beaury and teachers throughout the High School. Many agreed they would be more comfortable knowing what to do, starting with calling 911.
Instruction should be based on a nationally recognized program that uses the most current hands-only CPR guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (or equivalent organization); specifically:
Students will be taught to recognize the signs of possible cardiac arrest and call 911.
Instructors must provide students with hands-on opportunities to demonstrate the skills needed and compressions necessary to perform hands-only CPR.
Instructors must provide students with awareness about the use of an AED, including showing what an AED looks like and where it is located, as well as demonstrating the AED.
Hands-only CPR involves only chest compressions; no rescue breaths (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) are necessary. According to the American Heart Association, CPR can more than double a person's chances of survival, and studies show that people receiving hands-only CPR are as likely to survive as those receiving conventional CPR with rescue breaths.
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.
Schools may choose to purchase CPR training kits that provide a comprehensive, turnkey instructional program for hands-only CPR practice. Although, to meet the state requirement, schools may also choose from a variety of low-cost and no-cost options including: borrowing necessary equipment, using free online training tools, partnering with local EMS or, as a last resort, students can simulate delivering compressions on basketballs or playground balls.
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