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West Aurora Schools, Waubonsee Team Up for CPR Certifications

On Monday, the Waubonsee American Heart Association (AHA) Training Center, along with the AHA Training Center at Edward Hospital trained and certified about 100 physical education teachers from West Aurora School District 129.

Waubonsee Community College’s Workforce Development division is working with local school districts to answer increasing pressure for educators to be trained in life saving techniques in Illinois. On Monday, the Waubonsee American Heart Association (AHA) Training Center, along with the AHA Training Center at Edward Hospital trained and certified about 100 physical education teachers from West Aurora School District 129.

School officials say the district has already required CPR and other lifesaving courses as part of their sophomore physical education curriculum for many years, so Monday’s training and certification session goes above and beyond a law signed into effect in July 2014, which was named in memory of a local student.

House Bill 3724, or “Lauren’s Law” was spurred by the death of St. Charles North High School senior Lauren Laman, who went into sudden cardiac arrest while practicing with her dance team in the school gym. After her death, her parents and brother started a campaign to ensure that all Illinois high schools students are trained in CPR and AED use prior to graduation. The law requires that training on how to properly administer CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) be included in curriculum in all high schools. The bill also encouraged school districts to employ or have volunteer staff who are certified in first aid and CPR, and to provide training for staff. The bill provides for the State Board of Education to establish a matching grant program to pay for half the cost a district incurs for training teachers or school personnel who desire to become certified.

According to the AHA, every hour in the U.S. about 38 people will have a cardiac arrest event outside of a hospital, and nine out of 10 will not survive. However, lifesaving CPR can double or even triple a person’s chances of surviving. Twenty states already have laws supporting CPR in schools for high school graduation. While Illinois’ version of the law stopped short of requiring it for graduation, local CPR trainers say that it has increased awareness of the importance for training educators.

Todd Gingerich, curriculum coordinator for PE/Health/Driver’s Ed for West Aurora School District 129, is new to his position and said one of his first priorities was holding a major certification event like the one held Monday for PE teachers.

“Some of the people who are getting certified are also coaches, so we are just looking at trying to make the safest environment possible for all of our students,” he said.

Gingerich said the district has already witnessed the benefits of teaching students how to administer life saving skills: Several years ago, a middle school student successfully administered the Heimlich maneuver on a peer, based on training he had received in the classroom.

“This is the first time we have done something on this scale in awhile,” Gingerich said of Monday’s event. “Seven or eight years ago our CPR trainers at the high school trained our middle school teachers, but I am new to this role and this was one of the first things I wanted to do. All of our schools have an AED and I wanted to be sure the teachers are trained on it. This allows us to be able to do the right thing.”

To schedule a similar training for your business or school, contact the AHA Training Center, Waubonsee Community College, (630) 966-4640 or cpr@waubonsee.edu