Norwin middle school students receive lifesaving training

| Monday, April 22, 2013, 7:14 a.m.

Norwin School District seventh-graders can be lifesavers.

They learned the core skills of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and received CPR kits from the American Heart Association as part of a recent assembly.

AHA community CPR manager Joseph Laskowski led the presentation, showed a video and discussed cardiac arrest statistics.

Statistics included that nearly 80 percent of all sudden cardiac arrests occur at home and are witnessed by a family member or loved one. Less than 5 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive because the majority of people do not know how to perform CPR.

“We have done things in the past to try to increase the numbers of people trained in CPR in the community, and we have come to the conclusion that the best way to do that is you,” Laskowski told the students. “We have science behind that to support us.”

Laskowski instructed a group of 12 students in CPR with the help of inflatable mannequins that were in the kits.

He did not demonstrate mouth-to-mouth techniques, only the importance of calling for help, checking for responsiveness and performing chest compressions.

“This is for a witnessed event,” Laskowski explained. “If you witness me going down, you know I've got enough oxygen in my body to last me about seven minutes. You want to do compressions only. It takes about 40 compressions just to start getting the blood circulated. We used to stop at 30 (compressions). When you stop everything stops. By doing 100 compressions per minute, you get about two or three cycles of blood through the brain.”

The kit came with lung bags, alcohol wipes, an instructional DVD and other information regarding CPR.

Laskowski said the students will not be certified as a result of the program, but will know enough to help increase a person's chance of survival.

“It's very easy to say, ‘Call 911, check for responsiveness, then push hard, push fast in the center of the chest,'” Laskowski said. “We work on the principle that the seventh-graders still love their mom and dad. They're still enthused. ... We're hoping the kids will do the same thing with their parents. They'll put the DVD in, and it's self-directed, self-learning and wala. We now have not just one person trained, we've got two, three, four, five.”

Seventh-grader Tyler Dimitroff was among those on stage.

“You have to keep steady beats when you're doing CPR,” Tyler said. “If you're going too fast it might damage the person. ... If the ambulance doesn't get there quick enough then you can do something (to help someone in cardiac arrest).”

Tyler repeated some of the facts he learned at the assembly, and encourages people to learn how to perform CPR.

“It kind of felt good because I can do something if something ever happens,” Tyler said.

Middle school principal Bob Suman said having the American Heart Association in his school felt personal because, when he was a middle schooler, his father, Ronald Suman, suffered a heart attack.

“The earlier the better, naturally, to get this (information) out,” Suman said. “I felt that this was a particularly good age to introduce it. These kids do have a health curriculum here, and we can bed that nicely into our health curriculum. They will be trained in their health class by our faculty, and they will be asked to take it home and train as many people as they can possibly do. I'd say there's close to 400 (seventh-graders here).”

The assembly was made possible through a grant from the Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation.

More information on CPR and heart health is available online at

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or

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