GROVE CITY –– Bob Roelofs was standing one second and then sprawled flat on the floor the next as several adults nervously milled about, wondering what to do, before finally deciding someone should call 911.
As they waited for help to come, Bob “died” of a heart attack.
Fortunately, this was just a bit of drama and Bob popped up off the floor of the stage at the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Junior/Senior High School and proceeded to help teach students and staff how to use cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillators.
During training that began Tuesday in Grove City and concludes Friday — on Valentine’s Day — every seventh- through 12th-grade student at ACGC is learning lifesaving skills that will become mandatory for all Minnesota high school students next year.
Legislation approved in 2012 requires all seventh- through 12th-grade students to have one-time instruction in CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators in order to graduate. The requirement begins in the 2014-15 school year.
ACGC opted to begin a pilot program this year, which the district is calling “heart of a champion,” to align with updated curriculum for health classes being implemented now.
Superintendent Sherri Broderius said it was decided ACGC would offer it to all 360 high school students, as well as teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries and administrators and other school staff.
“We didn’t know what group to focus on so we decided to train them all and see how it works,” said Broderius.
ACGC students will be “sprinkled out over the district when they go home and on the weekends, and maybe they can save a life sometime,” said Broderius. “We hope they’re never in that situation,” she said, but if they are, the students will know what to do.
For four days, six certified trainers from Emergency Education & Consultations are teaching the classes.
Some students are being trained in hands-only CPR that focuses on calling 911 and doing chest compressions “fast and hard.”
Other students, including this year’s sophomore and senior classes, will be certified in CPR and use of automated external defibrillators by the end of the week.
“We’re going to show you how to save Bob today,” said Tom Werder, CPR and first aid instructor and the owner of Emergency Education & Consultations, based in Litchfield.
Werder told students that in his eight years of being an ambulance crew member, he responded to 80 cases that required CPR. Because CPR was not begun until the ambulance crew arrived, Werder said none of those 80 individuals lived.
He told the students the results could have been different if people at the scene had known how to do CPR.
With a combination of how-to videos, one-on-one guidance from instructors and hands-on practice, students in the 8 a.m. class on Tuesday appeared to catch on quickly to chest compressions, mouth-to-mouth procedures and how to activate portable automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, that are now located in many schools, churches and businesses.
The music “Staying Alive” was played to help students get the appropriate rhythm and frequency of chest compressions.
Roelofs said it would not be unusual for students to one day face a life-or-death situation, like “Bob” collapsing and needing help. In some cases, it could be a student’s grandparent, he said.
The district has already purchased books and inflatable mannequins so that ACGC health teachers Jan Jensen-Skoviera and Sam Nelson can continue to teach the skills in the future.
“We’re just excited to be the pilot program for this,” said Jensen-Skoviera.
The CPR training takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, with students completing that in one day.
Those learning CPR and the appropriate use of AEDs will have 2½ hours of instruction spread out over two days. After being tested on their skills, they will be certified to perform CPR and use the AED equipment.
“This is just an awesome opportunity for all our students and staff to be trained for the first time, or be recertified, so we can go out and, hopefully if we ever need to, save some lives,” said Jensen-Skoviera.
Nelson said she hopes students will “walk away with the content knowledge and the confidence that they’d be able to save a life.”
Nearly 450 people overall will be trained in the sessions.
“It’s the largest we’ve ever done,” said Werder.
Werder praised legislators Gov. Dayton for the new law requiring students to have training in CPR and use of automated external defibrillators. Certification is not part of the requirement.
Werder said ACGC took the “extra step” in training the entire high school student body and staff and also providing certification.
“I really commend them for what they’re doing to train their community,” said Werder. “It’s really fabulous.”