During the 2015 Florida legislative session, the American Heart Association will ask legislators to ensure all high school students learn CPR. Training students in CPR can be accomplished with a minimal investment in time and cost. According to the latest science, trainees—including school children—can achieve acceptable levels of CPR skills proficiency in 30 minutes or less. That means in less time than it takes to watch the average sitcom students can learn this lifesaving skill. Just ask Greta McKinnon-Hall, a CPR instructor with St. Johns County Fire Rescue.
Working at St. Johns County Fire Rescue definitely was not in my life's plan. I wanted to become a high school history teacher. But, things work out for a reason and to say I found my calling would be an understatement.
In 2012, I developed a "Hands Only CPR" program and thought that the high school level was the perfect place to start. These students were about to go out into the real world and possibly be in circumstances where knowing CPR could save someone's life. In April 2012 I approached one of our high school principals and asked if he would allow us to attempt to train their senior class and he said, "Sure." The following month, we held the first Hands-Only CPR senior class event. Through the course of the day, we trained almost 300 seniors in Hands-Only CPR and how to use an AED. This program was such a success that we expanded it to all seven St. Johns County high schools.
Starting in November 2012, we began the program by going to one or two high schools a month. In the first full year, we successfully trained 3,500 graduating seniors. The 2014-15 school year started in September and by the completion of this year we will have gone to all seven public high schools and adding a private high school as well.
The program has no funding and the success of the program was supported by volunteers (15-25 per school event), borrowed equipment and donated items.
- Written by Greta McKinnon-Hall