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Tunkhannock Class First To Master Health Certifications

February 9, 2019

Tunkhannock Area seventh graders in the STEM Academy were recognized Thursday for being the first full grade level in the state to receive dual certifications in Heartsaver CPR and “Stop the Bleed.” All 175 students in the seventh grade class underwent the training through Commonwealth Health as part of its community outreach program. The students also received training in administering Naloxone, a drug that reverses an opioid overdose. STEM Academy Principal Kelly Carroll said the initiative began in the spring of 2018. She saw a news report about Stop the Bleed and had the idea to empower Tunkhannock students to be able to save lives through this training, as well as CPR training. It took months of coordination and about three months of implementation to certify the students, Carroll said, and it gives her peace of mind to know her students are prepared in the event of an emergency. “It’s a lifesaving technique that I think every student across the commonwealth should understand,” she said. Gail Malloy, trauma injury prevention and outreach coordinator for Commonwealth Health, provided the training with Ted Kross, Commonwealth Health’s director of emergency services. Kross said Stop the Bleed was two parts: a lecture, followed by a hands-on course where students — as well as faculty and staff — learned how to pack a wound, recognizing bleeding, apply a tourniquet and more. Tunkhannock Area faculty and staff also received Stop the Bleed training. “We feel it’s very important that not only with the crime and unfortunate shootings across the country, being in a rural environment, it’s good for them to know how to stop bleeding, for example, from a farm accident, motor vehicle accident, any kind of accident, and as a last resort, use a tourniquet,” Kross said. They also recognized the importance of CPR, which is another skill that can be used in any setting. For the separate CPR training, he and Malloy collaborated with Commonwealth Health EMS. This training required them to train the students in groups of about 60. “The students are a great target to educate in CPR so they can carry it through their lives and hopefully never use it, but if they have to use it, save someone’s life,” he said. Kross said in the future, they hope to train other grade levels at Tunkhannock, as well as students in other area schools. Wyoming County Commissioner Tom Henry commended the students about CPR and Stop the Bleed, but also commented on the Naloxone training, which has helped many in the county. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt safer in a building,” Henry said. “You’ve really done an awesome job. We’re very grateful for that.” Cheryl MacDonald-Sweet, director of Commonwealth Health’s trauma service line, also shared that Gov. Tom Wolf is working on a proclamation congratulating the STEM Academy students. Elaine Walker, who directs Commonwealth Health’s heart and vascular institute and serves on the American Heart Association board of directors, spoke to the students with Northeast Pennsylvania American Heart Association Executive Director Amy Skiba. Walker said she serves on the board because she believes in its mission to reduce death and dying, and now the students get to be part of that mission. Skiba shared that 350,000 people will suffer from cardiac arrest this year, and now the students are equipped to help them. Skiba said she’s used to seeing older students receive certifications, and asked the students to help her in getting a state law passed to require every student in the commonwealth to become CPR certified by writing letters and talking to state representatives. Jason Burkhart, a representative of the American Trauma Society of Pennsylvania, presented the school district with a Stop the Bleed kit, and Shealynn Shaver, executive director of the Wyoming County Health Foundation, gave the district Stop the Bleed bags to go in 250 classrooms, as well as on the school buses. Malloy passed out certificates to each student at the end of the program. Zoe Powers, a Tunkhannock seventh grader, said she was a little nervous at first to receive the CPR and Stop the Bleed training, but knows that there is a need for it among students and feels safer knowing her whole class is certified. “Everybody should have the technique to be able to save someone’s life if it’s ever needed,” Powers said. Being part of the first class in the state to receive dual certification is also a good feeling for Powers. “It’s pretty awesome knowing we can all do something like that,” she said. Contact the writer: bwilliams@wcexaminer.com