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Entire NJ school district gets CPR, AED certified

The district certifies, or recertifies, all of its 2,300 students, teachers, faculty and staff


Teacher Andrea Padelsky instructs a student on proper chest compressions and use of an AED.

Courtesy photo

Pascack Valley Regional Schools

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. — About two years ago, New Jersey state lawmakers signed into law that every K–12 school must have a defibrillator on site, an emergency action plan in place and at least five CPR trained staff members.

The Pascack Valley Regional High School District decided that wasn’t enough. Instead, every year the district certifies, or recertifies, all of its 2,300 students, teachers, faculty and staff.

“In 2014, we had a student athlete on the track team at one of our high schools collapse and go into cardiac arrest,” Barry Bachenheimer, the district’s Director of Curriculum, who is also an EMT and CPR instructor trainer, said. “Thanks to the quick reaction and implementation of CPR and an AED by students, coaches, the athletic trainer and local EMS, the student had a full recovery. As a result, we as a district, supported by our board of education, decided that every one of our students, faculty and staff would not only be trained, but also certified in CPR every year.”

The coordinator of the program is Joseph Orlak, Supervisor of Health and Physical Education. “Every one of our 14 Health and Physical Education teachers is certified as an American Heart Association CPR Instructor as well as our athletic trainer and a few of our faculty,” Orlak said. “Rather than being satisfied with just being trained, we opted to take it to a whole different level and provide “Heartsaver” certification in CPR and use of the AED to all people who are in our district. I’m very proud of the work of our instructors and thankful for the support of the Board of Education.”

The mass certification was so impressive that even the American Heart Association took notice. It gave the school district their annual “Lifesaver Award” in 2016 for promoting the “chain of survival” for cardiac events. According to the American Heart Association, Pascack Valley is the only school district in New Jersey where all members of the school community are certified on a bi-yearly basis.

Besides the obvious connection to lifesaving, the CPR program has also generated interest from Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills students to get their EMT or First Responder certification and join the TriBoro, Hillsdale and River Vale Volunteer Ambulance Squads.

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