By Johnny Jackson
School officials hope to increase the number of first-aid-certified Henry County School System employees through a series of classes to be offered this summer.
The Henry County Fire Department is partnering with the school system, and its middle-and high-school athletic programs to provide first-aid, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and Automated External Defibrillator-use (AED) training for coaches and other school personnel, according to Phyllis Hadden, the school system's director of student services.
"This is a collaborative effort that can save lives of children and adults," Hadden said.
Hadden noted that, while coaches have received training in the past as part of their job-related responsibilities in athletics, all school personnel will be offered the opportunity to receive training this summer.
About two dozen Ola High School coaches and assistant coaches are signed up to take part in the training later this month, according to Ola High School Athletic Director Curt Miller. "We were mandated two years ago [by the state] for all coaches and assistant coaches to get trained in CPR," Miller said. "We've been doing CPR for about six years, voluntarily getting coaches to do it."
Miller said coaches throughout Henry County have favored obtaining CPR and first-aid certification, because it gives many of them a peace of mind, knowing they can help in times of emergency.
"It's just something good to have for all of our coaches," he added. "I feel, in my heart, that knowing CPR and how to use AEDs is crucial, because a few minutes could mean the difference between life or death."
All middle and high schools have AED devices, and many of the elementary schools have them as well, said Connie Rutherford, Henry's community development coordinator. Rutherford said some school-level AEDs have been donated by Parent-Teacher Organizations, civic organizations, or purchased through fund-raising efforts.
"AEDs are getting to be more and more common, but they aren't located in many buildings," said Capt. Billy Kunkle, the firefighter and paramedic who oversees Emergency Medical Services operations for the Henry County Fire Department. "We would like to have most people there capable of using AEDs, [because] sudden cardiac arrest is a very big issue in American society," Kunkle said. "There was an instance, locally, in which a referee collapsed at a basketball game and an AED was used to save his life."
Kunkle and other members of the county's fire department will be conducting first-aid, CPR, and AED-use training for the school system this month and next. Kunkle said the one-day training will last between four and six hours, and will only cost about $6 for each participant, to cover the cost of American Heart Association CPR cards.
Kunkle noted that the summer training sessions allow for more employee convenience. He said training will be held at different schools on different days, over the course of a few weeks.
He said he hopes for broad participation in the school community, because the more first-aid-capable citizens there are, the more efficient emergency response will be community-wide.
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