After a defibrillator saved a young girl's life at Appomattox Regional Governor's School, other students are now training to use the device.
It was a traumatic episode that unfolded in an instant. A young girl collapsed during a school assembly and went into cardiac arrest. An automatic defibrillator saved her life.
Now, a school nurse of more than 50 years is training her students to use the portable devices. The Governor's School is teaching all ninth and tenth graders to save lives, using the small pieces of equipment known as automated external defibrillators (A.E.D.s).
"This is my dream," said nurse Jean Joyner, 72, in an interview Thursday. "I trust my students immensely, and they have shown incredible passion to learn these skills."
The incident during the Appomattox assembly happened in November, and served as the impetus for the A.E.D. training. By the 2016 -2017 school year, all ninth and tenth graders in Virginia will learn how to use the devices, as part of their physical education curriculum.
"It's amazing to know how to save a life like this," said Appomattox student Donae Jones in an interview Thursday. "The technique for compressions is tiring, you have to use your hips, but you get used to it eventually."
Appomattox now has five A.E.D.s throughout the school. The devices are equipped with pads placed on a person's chest, which make real-time assessments during heart trouble. The A.E.D issues voice commands to either start compressions or clear the area before a shock is delivered.
For parents concerned their children are using potentially dangerous equipment, Joyner vehemently disagrees that high school students are not mature enough for the emergency training.
"This gives them more self confidence, going out into the world," Joyner said. "We never know when we're going to need this. But when we do, we're ready."
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