In what may go down as the most productive and important half day in the history of public schools, 604 students at Auburn Middle School were taught and practiced Hands Only CPR on Tuesday morning. Under the leadership of physical education teacher Denise Collins and with the cooperation of the American Heart Association, students watched a short video about CPR before proceeding to 4 working stations.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is the only way to keep a person’s brain and other vital organs alive after cardiac arrest, and Hands Only CPR was developed to help laypeople assist in an emergency. Additional skills like artificial respiration will be performed by higher trained first responders like police officers, firefighters and EMTs, but keeping blood circulating in the body is essential to a patient’s recovery.

Rotating in groups of about 50, the students learned about Hands Only CPR from Coach Lajoie before practicing the technique with several teachers assisting. Another station explained the AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) and demonstrated its use. There are two AED’s at the middle school. Students also learned how to find a person’s pulse in the wrist and neck which was a first-time experience for most.

Two physical exercise stations rounded out the hour that each grade level had. The first was doing basketball layups, and the second was jumping rope. Assistant Principal Matt Carlson amazed many of the students with his solid abilities with a jump rope.

Coach Lajoie told the students, “It’s not about you. It’s about saving someone’s life.” Most students took the CPR compressions very seriously, but the light weight of these young, potential rescuers posed some challenges while attempting to push down on the manikin’s chest. The important thing was to expose them to the skills and hope they will be further developed with broader training in the future.

In the closing moments for each grade, School Resource Officer Brian Kennedy kindly shared some of his real world experiences and the personal satisfaction one gets from helping save a life.

This was an excellent training session and may serve as a model for many other schools in the months and years to come. Congratulations to all involved.