'Stayin' Alive': Pa. school teaches students CPR

The training was a hit with the students as they compressed CPR manikins to the beat of the music

By Melissa Klaric
The Herald

SHARON, Pa. — West Hill Elementary parents might have wondered why their sixth-grader came home on Tuesday singing "Stayin' Alive" from "Saturday Night Fever."

It is because the kids learned Hands Only CPR, which involves doing chest compressions to the beat of the classic Bee Gees tune.

"They leave here knowing what to do," said Brittany Douglas, stroke coordinator for Sharon Regional Health System. "To call 911 and start CPR. And they all did an excellent job today."

According to the American Heart Association training model, Hands-Only CPR has just two easy steps: If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, first call 911; and second, push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive.”

During CPR, the heart association recommends pushing on the chest at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute and the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” is a perfect match for that.

"It encourages the kids to have that momentum – to just keep going," said Traci Barber, a teacher's aide who helped to organize the training. "Just keep compressions going and the blood will carry enough oxygen to the brain."

About 60 sixth-graders donned West Hill "Keeping the Beat" T-shirts provided by the PTO and were taken to three different stations as part of the healthy lifestyles program featuring staff from Sharon Regional, McGonigle Ambulance Service and the heart association.

"We learned about heart attacks and everything that could happen to people and how to save them," said student Sean Burns. "But mainly you always have to call 911 first."

The training was a hit with the students as they compressed CPR manikins to the beat of the music blaring in the school gym.

Outside, students piled into ambulances where EMTs familiarized kids with what's inside and what EMTs and paramedics do in emergencies.

"This is to help kids get familiar with us so they're not scared if we show up and have to help them," said Wesley Blauser, an emergency medical technician. "There's some things that we do that might seem scary and might hurt for a little bit but it's to help you. You'll have a moment of pain just to make you better."

Then students got active while learning about healthy lifestyles with Roy Thomas from the heart association.

"The main goal is to teach the students Hands-Only CPR, and to teach them healthy lifestyles," said the association's Kelly Sobotka. "About food choices, being active, getting fit. And then if they see signs of a heart attack and stroke then they know to call 911."

"We did some exercises and learned about healthy living," Sean said.

Sean renews his CPR certification every year with his Boy Scout troop.

In the afternoon, some of the sixth-grade students showcased their Hands-Only CPR skills to the entire West Hill student body during their Jump Rope for Heart assembly.

Copyright 2016 The Herald

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