PALMDALE – Students bobbed rhythmically as the falsetto voices of the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive rang through the gymnasium at Desert Willow Intermediate School. This was no school dance, though. These 7th and 8th grade students were learning hands-only CPR and becoming empowered as lifesavers.
“The best thing for me has been seeing the change in the students,” said Desert Willow Assistant Principal Kathy Moshier. “Many of the students had doubts coming in, but you could see their faces light up as they realized they could actually save a life!”
The training was made possible by a grant from Ross Stores and the American Heart Association that provided the school with 10 hands-only CPR kits, including inflatable CPR mannequins. The training was also made possible because of a partnership with the Antelope Valley Union High School District’s Career Technical Education program.
High school students from the Health Careers Academy, Emergency Medical Technician and Fire Technology programs acted as mentors to the Desert Willow students. Each high school student taught the intermediate school students one-on-one, as school staff supervised.
“We’re teaching compressions with proper technique and rhythm,” explained Health Careers Academy teacher Angela Hefter.
Students were taught to first check the scene for safety and then check the victim for consciousness and breathing. If the victim is not breathing or is unconscious, the students were taught to assign someone to call 911 and begin hands-only CPR.
“The students won’t be certified, but they’ll be able to make a difference, to help another person, to save a life,” added Hefter.
Students rotated through two stations at the training. One station taught the hands-only CPR. The other station introduced students to some of the courses offered by the high school district, giving them an up close look at some equipment used in firefighting.
“These are our students today, but they’ll be headed to high school in the next year or two,” said Moshier. “Activities like these help build a bridge to high school for our students.”
The training was provided to all Desert Willow students who were able to participate, including many special education students. It was provided during the students’ physical education class period.
“We’re teaching these students how to look after and take care of one another,” said Moshier, smiling. “Who knows what impact this may have? What family member, friend or stranger they might be able to help? It’s a truly wonderful thing.”