June 1 – 7 is national CPR and AED awareness week, which is a reminder that anyone has the ability to help save a life by knowing how to perform CPR and use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator).
Each year 1,000 Downingtown students at the Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center learn hands-only CPR. The program is hosted by Steve and Christy Silva, founders of Aidan’s Heart Foundation. Their son Aidan, a Downingtown elementary school student, died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2010. After he passed away at the age of 7, his family created the foundation to raise funds for heart screenings and to donate AEDs to local organizations.
|Submitted photo - Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center students learn hands-only CPR during a program at the Downingtown school hosted by Aidan's Heart Foundation.|
As part of a school-wide project, Marsh Creek students had a contest to take pictures of AEDs and name the location to inform others about it. There is an AED placed outside of the main office in their school. Including the graduating class, more than 3,000 Marsh Creek students have been trained in hands-only CPR to date.
|Photo by Ginger Rae Dunbar - This is the AED located in Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center, of the Downingtown Area School District.|
“We wanted to make sure no other parents went through what we did, losing a child,” Silva said to the students at a recent school assembly. “You as a group are changing lives and literally saving lives.”
With more understanding today of how CPR can save a life, chest compressions are deemed the most important and that’s why hands-only CPR is helpful for people to learn.
When we learned about CPR at the firehouse, we learned more advice than how to perform CPR. Our trainer helped us to realize that we could be in a situation where medical attention is needed, including CPR, at places we frequent, such as school, church, work and at community events. It may not just be when we are at the firehouse and get dispatched for help.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. There are usually no warning signs or symptoms, and victims of SCA usually appear to be in perfect health just seconds before their collapse, according to the foundation’s website.
Our trainer also reminded us that people who are not certified or are unaware of how to perform CPR can help by calling 911, retrieving the AED, flagging down the medical personnel when they arrive and lead them to the patient.
I thought that learning how to use an AED would be difficult, but most devices explain the directions verbally and state when to give the patient a shock. When I reported on AEDs being donated for placement in parks, I learned that they have a safety feature that would not allow a person with a heartbeat to become shocked accidentally. This feature may also help prevent any injuries or deaths if kids decided to play with the device. While that thankfully hasn’t become an issue, I only hope that people become aware that a device is nearby in the event that it is needed.