Students learn life-saving skill

FAIRMONT – Rapid clicking filled the air in the lobby of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northrop Tuesday morning.

Spread out on the floor were students on their knees, counting the clicks as they pressed down on Mini Anne’s chest. After a count of 30, the students bent forward and blew into the mouth of a plastic head and watched to see its chest rising.

Elementary students from the adjoining school – St. James Evangelical Lutheran School – were receiving adult and infant CPR and automated external defibrillator, or AED, training.

School nurse Nancy Backer administered the training, which came about when Lori Behrens, a parent volunteer at the school, came into possession of several American Heart Association Friends and Family CPR Anywhere course material.

Included in the kits are Mini Anne, a smaller, portable version of the more famous Resusci Anne, and a self-guided DVD with CPR/AED/Heimlich Maneuver instructions.

Mini Anne is a mannequin designed for students to learn CPR with. When breaths are administered to the mouth, the chest rises. When students press on its chest, a clicking noise signals the correct amount of pressure was used.

School principal Sarah Garcia said when Behrens offered the kits for training at the school, they were happy to use them.

Students in fourth- through eighth-grade were given the training. The students did not receive a CPR certification, as the program is designed simply to teach how to do it in an emergency.

“We have noticed other schools have taken up doing (CPR training),” Garcia said. “The seventh- and eighth-graders are doing anatomy right now, so it is a really good fit.”

Behrens told the students it was important to learn how to perform CPR so they are not afraid if they need it.

According to the American Heart Association, the number one reason people give for not administering CPR in an emergency is fear that it will be done wrong.

The students were training not only to help other children, but adults as well. Backer noted a fourth-grader might not be strong enough to resuscitate a fully grown adult, but it won’t hurt anyone for the child to try.

“It can make all the difference in the world to help them right away,” Backer told the students. “Some CPR is better than no CPR.”

Backer said the Friends and Family Anytime kits are part of a push by the AHA to get more lay-people trained in how to perform CPR.

“More people are trained to not be afraid,” she said, “since what goes on in those first few minutes can make a difference.”