By Arjuna George
Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR) in partnership with the Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) is making a real impact on students’ lives by embracing first response skills. Three years ago, GISS students identified first aid as a desired skill in their careers class. There has been tremendous progress since then. By 2018 SSIFR will have taught every GISS student CPR and how to use an AED, as each student who joined GISS in grade ninewill have been taught how to perform resuscitation on fellow students, staff, family or total strangers.
To date, we have taught 375 students this life-saving skill. “Learning CPR is a great stepping stone to any further medical-related endeavours, but mostly we emphasize the important of learning this life saving skill due to the fact that statistically they are most likely to use these skills on someone they know” says instructor Chantelle Pohl. According to statistics from the Heart and Stroke Foundation there are more than 40,000 cardiac arrests per year in Canada.
“This partnership allows the students to acquire lifesaving skills for their own future career as well as getting exposure to the career of first responders and building community relationships” says GISS history teacher David Collombin. This training has even helped some students find part-time employment because having certification on their resumes is an asset.
Those first few minutes after a cardiac event are the most critical. A program like this improves safety because more bystanders are trained in CPR/AED; this is essential to vastly improving survival rates. “We hope that these skills are never needed, but if they are, this community is ready,” says David Collombin.
To put this all into perspective, watch this video of a High School Volleyball student collapse in cardiac arrest and be successfully resuscitated by fellow students and teachers using proper CPR and the schools AED.
- Arjuna George, Fire Chief, Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue