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Emergency Response Training in RISD

March 7, 2017

Two incredible stories of life-saving intervention on RISD campuses took place late last year at Wallace Elementary and Lake Highlands Junior High School just days apart. RISD parent Sarah Maupin and district 7th grader Joe Krejci each went into cardiac arrest. In both cases, it was the quick action of school nurses and staff members performing automated defibrillator protocol that saved their lives. It was only a year ago that a similar incident occurred on the football field at Richardson High School.

On Point recently visited with Alicia Whitehead, RN and Special Assignments Nurse in Health Services for the district. Alicia was instrumental in forming and training campus emergency response teams at each school as part of RISD’s Project Save and oversees the district’s CPR program, training instructors and managing classes.

What is the RISD Project Save program?
Project Save began as a pilot program in fall 2014. RISD staff members at each school undergo training that includes videos about sudden cardiac arrest in addition to creating emergency response teams (ERT) at each campus. These ERT teams practice emergency drills twice a year, in the spring and fall. Drills are conducted at every RISD campus during regular school hours and after-school hours as well, so staff and faculty can practice crowd control and student management in addition to handling the medical emergency.

Who makes up a school’s Emergency Response Team?
Faculty and staff members volunteer to participate on their campus ERT. 18 classes are offered throughout the year for the convenience of district employees. Athletic trainers often serve as class instructors. All coaches, nurses and PE teachers, in addition to band and fine arts coordinators are certified in CPR and AED training. Per American Heart Association guidelines, re-certification must occur every two years.

What are the legal requirements regarding AED devices in the State of Texas?
In 2007 the Texas Legislature passed a law requiring schools place an AED on every campus. RISD has gone steps further. Depending on the size of the campus, a large elementary school (for example) will have two AED units on site. Secondary schools can have as many as five units per campus. AEDs are also located in every administrative building in the district, including each stadium and natatorium.

What is the most important component of CPR, AED & ERT training?
We seek every way possible to cut down the response time in both getting to a victim and rendering aid. With sudden cardiac arrest, the only medical response that works is the administration of an AED, but CPR has to be performed until that AED arrives. That’s why consistent, regular training is so important. Even with the smart technology provided by the AED – technology that both records heart rhythm and gives detailed auditory instructions – it’s the ERT team members who make every second count when it matters most.

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