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MWHS Hosts CPR/AED Training for All Students, Staff
February 8, 2024 — Nearly 1,000 students and staff members at Mound Westonka High School received life-saving training Feb. 6 during an all-school CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training provided by a host of local emergency responders.
The event, the third of its kind at MWHS, started as a collaboration between the school and community to bring bystander CPR/AED training to the school. The training is part of the Heart Safe Communities initiative, a nationwide effort to prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest. Previous MWHS events were held in 2016 and 2020.
Sudden cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone. And it's almost always fatal. Cardiovascular events, including cardiac arrest, are the second-leading cause of death in the state, responsible for almost 20 percent of deaths, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
“We work hard to make sure we deliver academics well,” said Assistant Principal Marty Fischer, who coordinated the event along with Dean of Students Jen Bormes. “We also want to make sure we create space for well-rounded students and staff, and this includes mental and physical health.”
The event was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Westonka Public Schools, the Mound Fire Department, the St. Bonifacius Fire Department, the Excelsior Fire Department, the Maple Plain Fire Department, the Long Lake Fire Department, Ridgeview Ambulance, the Orono Police Department, the Minnetrista Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Water Patrol, Advanced First Aid, and the Minnesota Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivors Network. All MWHS students, grades 8-12, and staff were trained in CPR and AED use during the 90-minute event.
The event started in the high school gym, where the student body welcomed over 65 volunteers from local police and fire departments and medical centers. Following a brief introduction, participants separated into groups and rotated through three stations.
At the gym station, MWHS students and staff were instructed in hands-only CPR, using hundreds of inflatable manikins. Participants learned that pushing hard and fast in the center of a person's chest following sudden cardiac arrest can help them stay alive until help arrives.
A hands-on AED training took place in the cafeteria. In groups of 10, participants learned from a first responder or medical professional the proper way to use AED machines, which are located in each Westonka school building and around the community.
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the school-wide training was a presentation in the Westonka Performing Arts Center by members of the Survivor Network. Six speakers told their stories of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest, thanks to early intervention CPR and AED use.
"It really is impressive to watch our entire student body and school community learn these skills alongside the volunteers from the local emergency agencies," said Bormes. "There is a wonderful energy that surrounds the event, and it's been a privilege to be a part of the planning team."
Event organizers explained that the goal of the training was to empower young people to take on a leadership role in an emergency and have the confidence to respond immediately to a cardiac emergency.
"What an incredible event! Thanks to a collaborative effort between MWHS and our local and neighboring emergency agencies, we were able to train all students and staff in CPR, and AED use, and hear the stories of heart attack survivors,” said Fischer. “This lifesaving training could literally do just that - save a life!”