Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Training pays off at New Prairie

By Vaseline May27,2024

(New Carlisle, IN) – In January 2017, New Prairie High School student Mark Mayfield collapsed in a school hallway and died from an undetected heart condition. Since then, the school community has rallied to ensure a similar tragedy does not happen again.

Fast forward to March 25the from this year. A parent of a New Prairie high school student was found unconscious in the school parking lot. Staff responded and stabilized him using a portable AED until paramedics arrived seven minutes later.

Twelve New Prairie employees were recognized for their heroics at a school board meeting last Monday. One of them pulled out the all-important AED. At least two others performed CPR, while a handful of staffers monitored the scene and directed first responders.

High school teacher Jenn Smith, who called 911, talked about her involvement. “When I looked outside, I saw the nurse was there and there was someone on the floor,” she said. “Our school nurse was already checking the pulse and doing her assessment.” Smith said she used the nurse’s phone to call 911.

Smith is an advisor for the high school’s Future Health Professionals (HOSA) program. “I am really proud of the staff and school who executed our plan and were prepared, knew exactly what to do and were able to save someone.”

High school biomedical teacher Tonya Aerts led the training at New Prairie. Needless to say, she’s quite proud of the recent achievement. “It was an amazing thing,” she said, “but it really shows how important practice and awareness is really worth it.”

Aerts says if as much effort were put into life-saving drills as other precautions, such as storm and fire drills, more health emergencies would have a happier outcome.

“There is no such thing as a cardiac emergency, yet each of us has a heart that can stop at any time,” she noted. “Are we prepared? I understand people think they are prepared, but when it actually comes down to that moment, are you prepared? And that high school group was (prepared), and they did it seamlessly.

Aerts emphasized that the New Prairie staff members who responded had never trained together for an emergency, but that they all knew how to play a role in the process. Those who took action ranged from custodians to teachers and administrators.

Julie West, founder of the Play for Jake Foundation, attended the ceremony in New Prairie. She works closely with Aerts to promote AEDs and training. “It’s only a matter of time before all schools join in,” she said. “Our children, our staff and everyone must return home from school safely. If we are prepared, lives can be saved.”

Nick Hogan traveled to New Prairie from Indianapolis on Monday evening. He represents Project Adam, which certifies schools as “heart safe” environments. “I had to come and celebrate because this is great work that has happened here,” he said. “It is breathtaking to see how the work is getting off the ground and shows that good preparation can actually save lives. They actually saved a life, and you should celebrate that.”

In 2021, New Prairie became the state’s first Heart Safe School. There are now more than 40 schools with special AED training. New Prairie is now the first of them to actually save a life.

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