By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN “Our goal is to train more bystanders in CPR,” said Kim Harkins, program manager of the Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium.
She noted that when Hennepin County became the first county in Minnesota to keep statistics on cardiac arrests, it was found that bystander cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was relatively low.
In order to increase the number of bystanders in this area who are trained in, and comfortable with, CPR and using an automatic external defibrillator (AED), the entire Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School spent the morning of Sept. 30 undergoing training.
Volunteers from the Howard Lake, Waverly, and Winsted fire departments, members of Ridgeview Ambulance, school nurses, and students in the first responder class at HLWW High School assisted in the training.
“Somebody has to start CPR before we (the first responders) get there,” said Denny Bobrowske of the Howard Lake Fire Department. “It sometimes takes five minutes or longer for us to reach someone in cardiac arrest.”
While the Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium conducts numerous mass trainings, this is the first time it has trained an entire high school in one morning, Harkins said.
“When you look at our area, that’s a lot of people on the street knowing how to use AEDs and CPR,” Bobrowske noted of the more than 360 people being trained at the school.
“I think its a good group to reach they are young, fairly healthy, and technology doesn’t scare them,” he added.
Sudden cardiac arrest survivor story
Several survivors of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) because of CPR from the Minnesota SCA Survivors Network were also available to share their stories with students and faculty, and assisted in the training.
Gene Johnson of New Brighton calls his sudden cardiac arrest Sept. 11, 2002 a series of three-to-four-minute miracles.
A retired school teacher from Moundsview who had taught fifth-and sixth-graders for 30 years, Johnson was laying sod in his backyard when his heart attack happened.
He was planning a fishing trip to Gull Lake, was thinking about getting a Big Mac, and was smoking a little cigar.
When he went into sudden cardiac arrest, his daughter suddenly had the urge to talk to him and called the house, Johnson said.
His wife, who was working on a puzzle, answered the phone, and her daughter urged her to go check on Johnson, which she did.
She saw the hose flailing about, and hung up to call 911. Because they had a cordless phone, Johnson’s wife was able to stay by his side to start CPR while talking to the emergency personnel.
The first police car that arrived had the only working defibrillator in New Brighton that day.
When the paramedics arrived, one of his former students was part of the crew.
“I was taken to Unity Hospital, where they figured I would be a vegetable the rest of my life,” Johnson told the sophomores at HLWW. “But, the modern body surprises everybody, and I got all my faculties back.”
Johnson underwent quadruple bypass surgery, took medications, and changed his diet to become more healthy.
Since his heart attack, Johnson has dedicated his life to training others in using AEDs and CPR.
Johnson was 63 when he became a survivor of sudden cardiac arrest. He is now 72, and just bought his first Harley Davidson motorcycle this summer.
Attentive students, dedicated volunteers
“This training went better than we even planned,” Bobrowske said. “The kids have been attentive, and are really doing a great job.”
“The kids have been great, able to behave themselves and pay attention. They know exactly what they are supposed to be doing,” said HLWW High School Principal Mike Day.
Both also commended the dedicated volunteers who were assisting with the training, with Bobrowske noting that some of them worked until 5 a.m., and still came to the school to help.
“We live in great communities here people pulling together and helping out with something like this,” said Day.
He noted that the school plans to conduct a training like this every few years, alternating it with the mock crash training like that which took place last fall.
“Getting the communities’ involvement in the school pleases me as an administrator,” Day said.