Eight staff members from the Challenge School were huddled around six figures lying prone on the floor of the school’s library.
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5…” Thirty chest compressions, then two life-saving breaths. Again and again.
Fortunately, the figures on the floor were dummies, not humans, and this wasn’t a medical emergency with mass casualties. Instead, it was one of several training sessions taking place at the Challenge School this month. By the end of the training, ALL of the school’s 40 staff members will be trained in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). CPR and AED use can potentially save someone’s life if they have stopped breathing or suffered cardiac arrest.
“We are always concerned about the safety of our children and making sure we are doing everything we can to keep them protected at all times,” said Challenge School Principal Linda Maccagnan.
Cherry Creek Schools Resource Nurse Patti Rojec is the trainer.
“I enjoy teaching CPR and first aid because it helps our staff members to feel more comfortable in an emergency. Unexpected incidents from small injuries to life-threatening emergencies can happen any day in our schools. Keeping our students healthy and safe and ready to learn is my goal. Having the skills and knowing what to do to be able to help save a life is really empowering,” Rojec said.
The Challenge School will be the first school in the Cherry Creek School District to have trained all staff members in first aid, CPR and AED use, but across the district, more than 1,000 employees have received the life-saving training just this school year. In addition, employees such as bus drivers and coaches are required to have similar training.
The Cherry Creek School District is recognized as a leader in protecting the health and well-being of students and staff. It is one of the only districts in the state to have a full-time school nurse at every school. All schools and many support buildings have at least one AED while high schools have at least two.
State Department of Health rules require that at least one trained staff member be present at any time students are present. Because of the Challenge School’s unusual academic programming, all staff members are being trained.
“One of the unique things about Challenge is that we do immersions two times a year and often require all of our staff to be on field trips with the kids at the same time so we needed to have every single staff member trained to meet that regulation,” said Principal Maccagnan.
Students can choose from a variety of week-long immersion courses that are teacher-designed “around an area of passion” according to Tracy Voreis, who teaches fifth- and sixth-grade science at Challenge. She included Red Cross CPR training in a recent immersion course on babysitting for students in fifth through eighth grade.
“They were totally into it,” Voreis said. “They said ‘This is so useful!” and they had lots of questions. They took it really seriously, so it was great.”