The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

February 12, 2014

Lesson in life-saving: Liberty Valley trains students in CPR

— MOORESBURG — Most fifth-graders agreed it was hard to do chest compression-only CPR.

Ten-year-old Mandy Hackenberg said she had an idea about CPR after trying it at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Her partner in Tuesday’s class in the Liberty-Valley Intermediate School gym was Kena Patel, 11.

Danny Metzer, 10, and Brayden Sarviss, 11, said they didn’t know the technique before and thought doing CPR compressions proved to be hard. Brayden said knowing the technique may help with some of his older family members.

“I knew a little bit. My parents showed me how,” said 10-year-old Billy Wilt who was working with 11-year-old Joe Mutchler. “I knew how to press on the heart but I never knew the steps,” Joe said.

This was the first class of HOPE, or Hands Only Practical Experience, taught by school nurse Ruth Hosterman. HOPE, which was created by a nurse, is a program of the American Safety and Health Institute.

Hosterman taught three classes Tuesday and expected to teach the rest of the fifth grade today and Thursday or a total of 180 students.

“Students need to be able to recognize when a person is in sudden cardiac arrest and to step in and help,” she said. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when someone’s heart stops beating.

Sudden cardiac arrest strikes about 360,000 people in the U.S. every year, she said. Eighty percent of the attacks strike at home and 60 percent are witnessed by someone. Only 10 percent of the victims survive, she said.

Hosterman said chest compression-only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR, which involves compressions and breaths, for sudden cardiac arrest.

It can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival, she said.

Compression-only CPR isn’t harmful and can be lifesaving, she said.   

“If they feel comfortable stepping in, they can help save lives,” she said of students.

She said a lot of students asked her about how to do the technique.

Students used 10 mannequins, some of which contained a green light in the shoulders to signal a student was doing compressions deep enough. Other mannequins would beep when fifth-graders did the proper CPR.

She showed students how to place their hands on the center of the chest of a mannequin, lock their elbows and press down for about two minutes.

If they find someone lying on the ground, they should first make sure it is safe to approach.

After determining it is safe, students were instructed to tap on the person’s shoulders and ask if they are OK. If the person isn’t all right and someone is else is there, call 911 and ask for an AED or an automated external defibrillator, she said. If the person isn’t breathing, start compressions, said Hosterman who was assisted by instructor Maxine Mingle.

Hosterman offers an outreach program evenings and weekends for the community. Classes include adult, infant and child CPR, professional level CPR and first aid. Anyone interested in the classes can call Liberty-Valley Intermediate School.

“We like to give back to the community and this is one of the ways we can do that,” she said.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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