By Michael Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo High School has more than 800 trained lifesavers, thanks to Junior Auxiliary.
Since the 2008-2009 school year, Junior Auxiliary has offered CPR-AED certification in the high school health classes. Training for the spring semester ended last week, meaning the group has trained more than 200 students a semester for the last four semesters.
“It’s important that they know what to do in an emergency,” said Traci Watson, who serves as the Junior Auxiliary chairwoman for the CPR-AED certification classes. “Out of these 800 to 900, there’s going to be a life saved.”
The class, taught by 11 Junior Auxiliary volunteers who are certified instructors, covers CPR techniques for adults and infants as well as use of automated defibrillators, which can provide a lifesaving shock to restart a heart in a sudden cardiac arrest.
The effort is inspired by Weston Reed, who died from sudden cardiac arrest during soccer practice in August 2007, and the community effort to make automated defibrillators widely available.
“A lot of the kids remember him,” said Bev Crossen, who volunteers both with Junior Auxiliary and the Weston Reed Cardiovascular Conference. “They’re very serious about the training, but they have a lot of fun, too.”
Junior Auxiliary has committed to offering the certification next year, too, Watson said.
The semester-long health class is required for graduation; most students take it their freshman or sophomore years, said Will Stafford, who teaches health.
While the students enjoy the certification training, they also seem to absorb the importance of it.
“It’s more of a hands-on experience,” Stafford said.
Because the American Heart Association requires a 9-1 student-instructor ratio for certification, Stafford and his colleagues mave to rely on Junior Auxiliary’s support.
“Without the volunteers, there’s no way,” Stafford said. “My largest class is 29 students.”