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Learning tricks that could save lives

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff

Small things can save lives: a smoke detector, wearing a seatbelt and having a defibrillator on hand.

A defibrillator is a little device that sends an electrical current to the heart when a person goes into cardiac arrest.

Park City School District Nurse Gina Agy said they are used by professional emergency response teams and can be found at airports. Now, both middle schools and Park City High School will have them available in case of emergencies.

Agy was able to get a grand for the defibrillators from the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services in the Department of Health.

For two days this past week the district held a comprehensive safety course, taught by Start A Heart, for CPR and defibrillators at Ecker Hill International Middle School. It also covered a variety of first aide procedures from treating burns to deep wounds.

"If we’re going to have these defibrillators in the schools I want the staff to be well versed," she said.

Agy is pleased to have the defibrillators available in the Park City School District and calls them, "the most advanced treatment for cardiac arrest."

Participant Bev Pacal, Head Secretary at Treasure Mountain International School, reported the entire front office staff attended the training in addition to PE teachers and a number of other staff.

She said the training is helpful because there have been incidents of students fainting or other emergencies that warrant a 9-1-1 call.

"We see everything in the front office," she said.

Attendence secretary at Treasure Mountain Jenny O’Day said she felt more confident after the training.

"What I thought was really good was that they had us do the compressions and breaths so many times," she said.

Participants practiced CPR on mannequins several times, both Pacal and O’Day commented they had sore wrists from so much practice.

Much of the training was conducted by Susan Lewis, Director of Start A Heart who said she believes defibrillators should be mandatory in all schools.

Her organization provides scenario-based training and is the only one in the state to provide one mannequin for every student. It is also one of the few to come on site, she said. They also provide the American Heart Association with guidelines for defibrillator use, a device that she said would be an asset at any community gathering place.

Lewis noted the American Heart Association is continually doing new research on ways to administer CPR, which is why frequent training is necessary. These days 30 compressions are done for every two breaths.

"Basically we’re going harder and faster," she said.

After cardiac arrest, "the brain begins to die within four to seven minutes, so if we can start CPR or use a machine, we increase survivability," she said.

Lewis added that cardiac arrest is the No.1 killer in the United States.

"The cost of a defibrillator is worth saving a life," she said.


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