High school students learn basic First Aid, CPR

Warman Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Schwartz explains how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on an infant to a group of Grade 10 students at Warman High School on Thursday, March 28

About 100 Grade 10 students at Warman High School earned their certification in First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) this past week.

Members of Warman Fire Rescue (WFR) provided five days of training free of charge for the students as part of the school’s wellness curriculum. The sessions involved small group mentoring by firefighters; practical hands-on exercises using realistically-designed adult and infant mannequins; and the use of training videos from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Warman Fire Chief Russ Austin said this is the second five-day session for WHS Grade 10 students this academic year.

“We’re putting through about 100 students in this session,” said Austin in an interview at the school on Thursday, March 28. “In the fall, before Christmas, we did another 100 students. So altogether, we now have about 200 young people in the community who will have the knowledge and skill set to be able to respond to an emergency.”

Austin said the five day course starts with how to perform CPR on adults, then transitions into how to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED), and finally how to do CPR on infants and small children. Along the way, the students also learn basic First Aid skills, including tehcnqiues  to save a person who is choking.

“We also do a piece on opioid overdoses,” said Austin. “It’s strictly an informational thing, because we’d be fooling ourselves to say that this is not an issue in big cities and small towns across western Canada. It’s just another tool in the toolbox.

“Basically we do an awareness piece; what to look for and what to do. It’s very similar to a basic CPR type of situation. Is the person breathing or not breathing? Are they conscious or unconscious? That’s all part of learning to assess the situation.”

Austin said the first step is always to call 911 and get the patient into a safe position.

“Early activation of EMS is one of the keys,” said Austin. “That, along with early CPR and access to an AED really help the survivability of a cardiac arrest.”

He noted that the City of Warman has about 16 AEDs located in buildings that are frequented by the public. Educating young people is just one more step in making the community safer, he added.

“Warman is a very heart-safe community,” said Austin.  “We’re lucky with the amount of AEDs and the number of trained people. When a cardiac arrest call comes in to us through a 911 dispatch, the longest it takes for us to get to a call is about six minutes.”

The WFR members raise funds to pay for the cost of the materials used in the CPR and First Aid training. In the past, parents had to pay a fee for their children to take the course.

Austin said the students earn their certification in Grade 10, and get a refresher course in Grade 12 to qualify them for re-certification.

He noted that the information is valuable for the students.

“These skills are often needed when they apply for part-time jobs, and they’re at an age where they may be babysitting or looking after younger siblings,” said Austin. “Unexpected things can happen  anytime, so it’s good for them to know what to do if they ever find themselves in that kind of situation.