By Karen Blackledge

The Danville News

DANVILLE -- Sixteen-year-old Michaela Karnes said she didn't know what to do before.

"Now I know what to do in case of an emergency," the Danville Area High School junior said during Monday's cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator training in the school's upper gym.

"The training will help me later in life. You never know when you will have to use it," said junior Steve Jakovljevic, 17.

Next to him was Andrew Andreychik, 16, who said the Danville Area Red Cross Chapter instruction "was putting it all together. Things happen. It's nice to be aware."

Students were divided in groups and trained on adult mannequins.

This is the 15th year the chapter has held the CPR and AED instruction for Danville juniors. This year, about 190 students will be trained during 40-plus minute classes for nine days, said Susan Kesler-Simpson, health and safety services coordinator for the Danville chapter.

The training began Jan. 3 and continues through Jan. 31. Students are also trained in first aid.

"This year has been wonderful with so many good volunteers," Kesler-Simpson said.

Eight students have been trained as volunteer instructors. "I'm very excited about this. We have had a wonderful response from the students who have trained 28 hours on their own time. Kids often respond better to their peers," Kesler-Simpson said.

If the students pass a test, they will be certified in CPR, AED and first aid for two years.

She has a total of 25 volunteer instructors working at various times. "Some come here first and then go to work. I have three women who come in the mornings and go to work in the afternoon. Some of the instructors call me and tell me to put them where I need them," said Kesler-Simpson who has been coordinating the program for five years.

Some of the instructors are retired doctors, college professors, nurses and others.

Dr. Bill Kimber has been a volunteer instructor with the program for 12 years. "The students enjoy this hands-on program. We have fun. I enjoy working with the kids. Changes come along each year with the program," he said.

"Kids who are interested can be recertified in the future. Others may become interested in health care," Kimber said. "A couple of years ago, we had a student who went on to become a nurse who plans to go to medical school."

Kimber is a retired Geisinger Medical Center cardiologist who serves as medical director of Geisinger's School of Cardiovascular Technology.

"Danville is a good area and very community-minded. It helps to have Geisigner here because people realize the importance of getting this training," Kesler-Simpson said.

One of the volunteer instructors is her husband David, a health physics department professor at Bloomsburg University.

"We love doing this work," she said. "There's a lot of prep work involved. Every person trained is one more person who can save a life."

"Unfortunately I have had to use my training twice and Dave has been called upon once to use his training," Kesler-Simpson. The incidents involved a pedestrian who was struck by a car and a neighbor who collapsed. Their son Robert Simpson is also a volunteer Red Cross instructor.

The Danville district pays the chapter for the student training.

E-mail comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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