NC teachers undergo training to save lives

The teachers learned how to perform CPR, use the AED, execute the Heimlich maneuver, administer an EpiPen, and perform basic first aid

By Jessica Williams

BURLINGTON, N.C. — Mary Taylor knows the value of CPR training because it saved her life.

In August, the registered nurse for South Mebane and Garrett elementary schools was eating carrots when one suddenly lodged in her throat.

“I was wheezing, and I’m thinking, ‘Seriously, is this really happening? Is this really happening to me?’” Taylor said. “And, luckily, I turned around and Bobbee Tyson, who’s a teacher assistant, she’s been trained, I patted her on the back and she turned around and looked at me with a funny look — because I must have patted pretty hard — and I [made the choking sign] and she said, ‘Are you kidding?’ and I went, ‘Uh-uh,’ and she worked on me. It didn’t come out right away. She had to work on me to get it out. It was awful. I was so grateful she was trained and she was there and knew what to do.”

Taylor’s been a nurse with the Alamance-Burlington School System since the 1996 merger.

There are more students — and more students with severe health issues — than there used to be, and providing staff with the knowledge of what to do in a medical emergency could mean the difference between life and death.

“We have a lot more students with severe, chronic illness,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of students with diabetes and asthma, a lot of seizures that we’re having to give them emergency medicine for, and severe allergies. It’s mostly the peanut or tree nut allergies.”

But technology has developed over the last 20 years as well.

About 2012, the school system purchased new automated external defibrillators. These machines determine whether the person needs to be shocked and how powerful of a shock to deliver, all while conveying audible instructions to the person providing assistance.

Taylor demonstrated how to use an AED on Thursday, Jan. 31, at Sellars-Gunn Education Center in Burlington, where she and a team of four others provided training for about 20 ABSS employees. Roughly 400 teachers, coaches and other staff members are trained each school year.

Participants take an online course before arriving at Sellars-Gunn to learn how to perform CPR, use the AED, execute the Heimlich maneuver, administer an EpiPen, and perform basic first aid.

The training has saved more lives than just Taylor’s. Two students — one at South Mebane Elementary and one at Southern Middle School — were saved by their teachers’ quick action last year. Both Brooke Hayward and Denise Gurley had recently taken CPR training when the incidents occurred.

Family members and strangers have benefited as well. One teacher ended up responding to her mother’s having chest pains during a car trip. ABSS School Nurse Tammy Troxler was standing at a hotel’s check-in counter in Myrtle Beach when the woman behind her fainted, and she ended up providing assistance until the ambulance arrived. When the woman came to, she revealed she herself was a retired nurse.

“It’s not where I thought I would need it, but I did,” Troxler said.

“We’re affecting the community at large,” Taylor added. “They’re not in school all the time, 24-7. Everyone goes to their kids’ sporting events, and they go to church, and they go to restaurants, and so I think by [training] as many people as we are able to [train], we’re keeping Alamance County safe.”

Copyright 2019 Times-News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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