AED training added to school health requirements

Students practice CPR on dummies during a training course at Bremerton High School this week.  - Seraine Page
Students practice CPR on dummies during a training course at Bremerton High School this week.
— image credit: Seraine Page

While graduating from high school has many requirements, Washington students have another: training in saving lives.

Under House Bill 1556, students are now required to have training in using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to help save someone going into cardiac arrest. The law was passed on May 8 of this year, and it became effective at the end of July. Before graduating from high school, students are required to have taken a health class that offers CPR and AED training.

“This has real-world applications,” said Lt. John Payne, who works for the City of Bremerton Fire Department. Payne and a few others volunteer to train Bremerton High School students for emergency situations that may require resuscitation.

“I think it is a great mandate,” he said of the new policy. Payne noted that many requirements for students have been put in place that don’t necessarily apply to real-world situations.

This policy, however, does, Payne said.

Under the Bremerton School District, it is Policy 2410, which complies with the state law to enact such a policy regarding emergency response training.

According to SHB 1556, there are a number of requirements, including 20 credits in specified course areas. Two of those credits “must be health and fitness credits,” states the bill. Within those health and fitness guidelines falls the “medical emergency response and automated external defibrillator (AED) training” for high school students.

Payne has been teaching CPR courses at the high school for 11 years now. The AED training is new, but fits in well with his CPR training, as both require hands-on work. In addition to covering other health issues, learning about how an AED could jump start someone’s heart again is a real-world situation students could run into, Payne said.

During the past week, students in Marty Neyman and Emily Hewitson’s classes joined together to receive the specialized training. The training is within health class instruction time to allow students to have book work and practical training. Throughout the week, Payne lectured about heart health and warning signs that someone is in need of medical assistance. At the end of the week, a 20 question, multiple choice test and practicum complete the training.

“He not only teaches CPR, but goes into depth about how the cardiac system works,” said Hewitson. “I think it’s awesome. The more people who have this information, the better off we all are.”

While Neyman and Hewitson heard some students moaning and groaning about going through the course, in the end, most get excited about doing it, they said.

“I think it’s good,” said Neyman. “(It’s) more lives that can be saved.”

Students in ninth through twelfth grades participated in the medical training in the commons area of Bremerton High School this week. At the end of the course, students could pay $3 to have their CPR/AED certification, which lasts for two years. After that period, the certificate would need to be renewed.

“It was fun; I liked it,” said ninth-grader Bailey Hensley. “It makes me feel responsible and important. It’s definitely worth taking. It’s a pretty interesting class.”

For the AED portion of the training, students watched as Payne worked with the defibrillator to show how it operates. CPR training allowed students to work on dummies for the final practicum in front of Payne who instructed hands higher or lower, harder or slower.

Although the new policy requires maturity, responsibility and is serious in nature, both teachers believe students understand the importance of learning it. Throughout the week, students’ confidence grew as they were able to move from paperwork to hands-on training.

“It’s really positive,” said Neyman of the training.

Ceinna King, a ninth-grader, also felt it was a good experience and a valuable skill.

“I liked learning all the steps,” she said. “I think it’s a good thing to know because in a situation I’d need to know how to do it. I feel more comfortable.”


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