Prince Albert students learn CPR

Jodi Schellenberg
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Students in Prince Albert learned how to save a life on Monday.

Lyle Karasiuk, director of public affairs for Parkland Ambulance, visited students at Holy Cross School with a Red Cross representative to teach the Grades 6 to 8 students CPR and how to use an AED.

“We’ve got 94 students here who are now that much better trained in how to use an AED and how to do CPR,” Karasiuk said. “In today’s standards, we have learned how to do what we call CPR only.

“Most of us are very squeamish about putting our mouth down on someone else’s mouth because we won’t have a protective barrier device and second we don’t have the tools readily available to us but we do have two hands,” Karasiuk said. “Two hands are better than no hands and two hands are going to make a big difference when we want to start pushing down, pushing hard and pushing fast.”

In addition to learning CPR and how to help a choking victim, the students also learned how to use an AED since the school will now have one located in the hallway thanks to Rock and Road Cycling Club.

“We also taught them how to relieve a choking object because we know that over the holidays, the chances are that much greater but certainly in and around the school, with all the activities whether in it is sports, music or they are at a gymnasium somewhere and they might be able to deal with that situation and make a difference,” Karasiuk said.

The goal was to teach the students so they have a better understanding of what to do in a crisis situation, Holy Cross principal Wade Mourot said.

“They will at least have an idea of what they need to do,” Mourot said. “They have been exposed to the ideas, they understand these are three steps to follow or what have you.”

Most of the schools in the city have an AED. About five years ago, the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division started a program to put AEDs in all their schools. Only a few need to be provided with AEDs.

“We just finished installing one in St. Anne’s School last week,” Karasiuk said. “We’ve got Holy Cross this week and I know in the Catholic School system there will be one in the new year at Turgeon. We are almost done.”

Having AEDs in the schools are very important, Karasiuk said, since they are the hub of a community.

“They are activity areas, not only during school but after hours and one weekends for sports,” Karasiuk said.

Although most people think AEDs are only important for the elderly that is not the case.

“They are just as likely to be needed for someone who is a younger person as they would be for someone who is old,” Karasiuk said. “They can make a difference.”

An AED can be the difference between someone living or dying, he said.

“Having them on the wall, having them close by and readily accessible -- we know that for every minute someone lies on the ground and we can’t wake them up and they don’t appear to be breathing, we know their chance of survival will be decreased by 10 per cent,” Karasiuk said. “The average response time in the City of Prince Albert to most cardiac arrest calls is going to be between a three or four-minute time.”

The four-minute response time, combined with the time it takes for the paramedics to get into a building and locate the patient means and AED can save the patient’s life.

“We know if we can have a high school student, a student here at Holy Cross, an adult in hockey rink or a church grab one of these devices and use it, when our paramedics walk in the door, the chances are pretty good that person may be awake or breathing on their own waking up, wondering what happened,” Karasiuk said. “It is a huge significant difference that a bystander laying a role, doing CPR and using an AED can make a in the life of someone.”

The 94 students were proud to learn an important skill that could potential safe someone’s life.

“It was amazing because I never learned stuff like that before,” Grade 8 student Summer Fedoruk said. “It was something new to learn.”

She feels confident her new skills could help someone in the future.

“If someone was having trouble breathing or choking or something, I would know how to help them,” Fedoruk said.

Karasiuk thinks most of the students will remember the skills in the future.

“It is quite easy for them to remember the easy steps and most of them already know when something happens that it is time for them to go get help,” Karasiuk said. “The next step is to know they have an AED in the school and go get it and turn it on.”

Since children see CPR being performed on TV and in movies, it is an easier skill to remember as well.

“All they need to know now are the simple steps -- I can’t wake them up, they are not breathing, roll them over onto their back and push hard and fast until help comes along,” Karasiuk said.

Not only will the CPR help the students if someone collapses at school, but also if something happens at their homes.

He hopes that other schools in the city will choose to have someone come in to teach students this skills as well.

“We are hoping the schools will pick up on this and in the community we can continue to do this because it is easy to teach these people how to do CPR,” Karasiuk said. “It is really simple for people to learn. It doesn’t take a lot of effort and we encourage people if they are in the office and want to participate to give us a call. We would be happy to help them out.”

The more people they can educate, the more people that can be helped in an emergency, he said.

“Now we have someone who knows what to do,” Karasiuk said. “Let’s do something because something is better than nothing. Even if we think we are wrong, something is better than nothing because standing there asking, ‘Do you know what to do?’ and having that lost look waiting for (the paramedics) to arrive.”

Mourot agreed that even if the kids retain a little bit of the information, it will help save lives.

“Not giving them any education doesn’t help -- at least this gives them some background information to use,” Mourot said. “The benefit is for all the parents and grandparents in the community who come to our school so if there is that crisis event so to speak there is a go-to place to help them. Hopefully they could save a life if it were to happen.”

Organizations: Holy Cross School, Prince Albert, Red Cross Road Cycling Club Saskatchewan Rivers School Division Catholic School system

Geographic location: Anne, Prince Albert

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