By Sue Moore
With Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) in place in each of Vicksburg’s elementary schools and the staffs trained in their use, mock emergency scenarios were carried out at Indian Lake Elementary in June to give staff practice in using the equipment.
All this is the result of a two-year effort by Bronson nurses, Julie Barnes and Heather Deal, who raised money for the equipment and trained the staff.
To raise money for the AED equipment, they contacted the Vicksburg Foundation, Rotary, Lions and the Parent Teacher organizations in the school district.
After the equipment was put in the place, the staff and teachers were trained in its use during the 2013/14 school year. Then, it was time for a trial run at Indian Lake Elementary.
It began with Barnes and Deal asking teacher Marie Law to call the response team as they carried a four-foot replica of a child to a nearby classroom.
A 911 call was placed while a member of the AED team picked up the emergency equipment and hurried to the classroom. The team converged within seconds, hooked up the AED to the chest of the rubber doll, and began compressions on the model.
Meanwhile, the EMS and fire trucks were dispatched from downtown Vicksburg. This is an eight minute trip, and if no one at the school had been trained in CPR and use of the AED, the patient would have been lost.
It’s important that the patient get adequate CPR to vital parts, Barnes said. In a real heart attack situation, a patient could recover if treated within five to six minutes. After that, it might be too late.
When the EMS crew arrived during the practice run, they took over the compressions to continue resuscitation efforts and relieve the Indian Lake staff.
Tracy McMillan, fire and EMS chief, who helped plan the drill, accompanied the responders. He reminded the Indian Lake staff that their efforts are more about quality of the compressions. He told them to keep a good steady beat, and trade off so they don’t get too tired.
This first mock drill was deemed a rousing success by Barnes and Deal.
Staff members at Sunset Lake and Tobey Elementary have also been trained in the use of the equipment and their teams formed as first responders.
There are also AEDs in the high school and middle school that have been donated through the Wes Leonard Foundation and local service clubs.
On their own time, Barnes and Deal have trained all the staffs at each school. Some of the money raised to buy the equipment has gone into a fund for maintenance and replacement of the equipment over the years.