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December 10, 2010

Responders give high school students basic CPR training in Canada

By Carmela Fragomeni
The Hamilton Spectator

ONTARIO, Canada — Neil Linkletter is only 15, but he's glad to have recently received basic CPR training, and heart defibrillator equipment information.

And, because he often watches the TV show ER, he knew part of the answer to one of the emergency services trainer's questions. One of the signs a baby is choking is it is suddenly not breathing, Neil answered. ER happened to have had an episode in which a baby was choking, said Neil later.

Neil, a Grade 10 Delta High School, was one of 150 students to receive training in the school gym Thursday, after Delta was presented with a defibrillator from Hamilton EMS and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

At Delta, all 814 students also would have received training by end-of-day Thursday.

"You are learning life-saving skills," director of emergency services Brent Browett told them during a brief presentation at the school before the first training session of the day. "Paramedics can do it, but need you to start it."

The presentation, attended by two Delta alumni - Mayor Bob Bratina and Fire Chief Jim Kay, was to mark the completion of placing one defibrillator in each of 18 city high schools this fall. The defibrillators, simple medical devices which can be used to aid someone having a heart attack, were paid for by TransAmerica Life Canada and Zoll Medical Canada Inc.

Delta however, was the only school where the entire student population received basic training. Twenty-two of the students earlier received a day's worth of more intensive training, said city EMS supervisor Len James. The student coaches, aided by three or four paramedics, then trained the entire school over a two-week period.

"It's handy," said Madison Ryerson, 15. "It's helpful, like when say something happens in a situation where someone's life is at risk."

James said Delta was chosen by EMS because it had not done any CPR public training in the area community.

In a 2006 pilot, the EMS trained the entire student population at Cardinal Newman High School and last year trained all the Grade 8s at Sir William Osler in Dundas.

One elementary school, Winona public, also received a defibrillator this fall, because it has over 800 students and a long response time from paramedics and firefighters, James said.

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