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February 22, 2012

Emergency planning: Students at Highland Hills Middle get CPR, first aid training

FLOYDS KNOBS — Their knowledge could give them the power to save lives, and they’re not even in high school.

Students in Highland Hills Middle School’s physical education classes are learning CPR and first aid from firefighters with the Georgetown Township Volunteer Fire Department. Jim Mayfield, medical officer with the department, said it’s helpful to teach children at this grade level because of their likelihood of being near an emergency situation.

“Statistics show this age group is more likely to encounter a cardiac event more than any because they’re in the malls and a lot of other public places something like this might happen,” Mayfield said.

He said the program has about 400 children in it. By the time it’s finished, he said his department will work to make sure all of them are certified in CPR and first aid.

After students complete the hands-on training with firefighters, they’ll take a written exam as well as a test with dummies to get their American Heart Association certification.

Eileen Richards, physical education and health teacher at the school, said the fire department contacted the school about doing the program. She said the firefighters aren’t cutting any corners — the students are learning real life-saving skills.

“It’s amazing how they’re so technical with the whole thing,” Richards said. “It’s so much better than I or Mr. Joe Perkins [PE teacher] could do.”

Mayfield said because of the areas these students live in, emergency response may not be as prompt as it is in the city. With these skills, they could help save a family member’s life before an ambulance arrives.

“Even with calling 911, you’re typically going to have a response time that takes more than just a few minutes,” Mayfield said.

Anna Lowney, one of the seventh-graders in the program, said she was glad the fire department was teaching students these skills.

“I think it’s useful because we might need it and it’s good to start the training when we’re younger,” Lowney said. “That way, when you get older, you already know how to do it.”

Mayfield said the training can also help students boost their confidence, knowing they’re an asset in an emergency situation.

“This is a great tool to build self-esteem,” Mayfield said. “These kids are learning life-saving skills to help someone they know or don’t know.”

Richards said when the students hear about how to recognize something like a heart attack, they begin to talk about their own experiences.

“As we’re going through the units, they’re sharing personal stories,” Richards said. “This is going to be invaluable to them out in the malls, but this will also help them with their own families.”

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