A group of teenage students learning CPR life saving techniques in class.

Each year, hundreds of thousands suffer from cardiac arrest in the U.S. Anytime, anywhere, an emergency can strike, leaving many with little chance for life-saving personnel to make a difference. These numbers would be decreased dramatically if more people were CPR certified. Currently at Seneca Valley School District, students and staff are training to be ready for any dire situation thrown their way.

According to the American Heart Association, the organization trains millions each year for CPR, but roughly 70 percent of people feel helpless during a cardiac emergency. Those people either don’t know how to administer CPR or they’ve forgotten the proper steps over years of stagnation. In order to combat these lapses, Seneca Valley runs a CPR curriculum that keeps procedures fresh in the minds of their students and faculty.

With the help of the American Heart Association, Seneca Valley students are trained for CPR in grades seven, nine and 11. With a two-year certification, this ensures that students will be certified the entire time they’re at school. Administrative and secretarial staff are also certified every two years, with the program being offered to teachers as well.

Jeffery Roberts, Supervisor of Gifted Education and Student Services, says that CPR training is a way to show students that in times of emergencies, their contributions will make a difference.

“I think it’s partly to empower students,” Roberts states. “Even at 12 or 13, they know a skill that can be helpful in their community.”

Students are also educated on speaking with a 911 operator and finding automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places. That kind of awareness, especially under pressure, is an extremely valuable skill for these students to retain.

In addition to basic CPR training, AED training has also been implemented and was recently expanded to include severe bleeding control as well, Roberts says. All staff at Seneca Valley were trained last year through the Stop the Bleed program.

Liz Williams, a nurse at Ryan Goyer Middle School, says all nurses at Seneca Valley have been taught to be Stop the Bleed trainers, ensuring that all new staff will be brought up to speed with the district's CPR regulations.

Williams went on to praise the CPR curriculum, insisting that her students are all trained and sufficiently prepared. In the time since it was implemented at Seneca Valley, Williams has heard several stories of students putting their CPR knowledge to the test.

Equipping students with CPR knowledge seems like an indispensable asset, but are children and teenagers really suited for these situations? As reported by the American Heart Association, they most definitely are. A recent study tested the capacity of sixth graders to perform CPR. The study concluded that a majority of those children could perform CPR in the correct location and at the appropriate compression rate. With our children’s viability in check, AHA has helped make CPR training a high school graduation requirement in 34 states.

When it comes down to it, the more people who know CPR, the better. Of the 350,000 people that suffer from an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) each year, 90 percent of them will most likely die. Of these OHCA, roughly 20 percent happen in public places and 70 percent happen in homes. If each of our children has the capacity to handle these dire situations, those terrifying numbers would change for the better. Seneca Valley School District has already proven that they’re committed to enabling our children to be the lifesavers of the future.

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