Think of all the things you can do in a few minutes. Take a quick jog, listen to your favorite song, check your emails, or save someone’s life through CPR, a skill that was taught to more than 60 children this month.
Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Our Lady of Fatima Parish teamed up to host a hands-only CPR class for kids and teens, free of charge, on Feb. 7. Mara Fleming, the K-8 youth group director and main organizer of the event, said the idea came from seeing the Wilton EMS booth at the Wilton street fair last summer. She immediately thought of St. Blaise, who, among other things, holds the title of patron saint of throat ailments.
“What better service to the community could there be than to learn how to potentially save someone’s life?” said Fleming, linking the two ideas together.
The evening started with a short presentation by EMS event coordinator Brian McDermott, giving a basic overview of the types of CPR, when to use it, and the steps taken in an emergency situation. Participants then gathered around mannequins in groups of four and practiced with EMS officials. They even got to use AEDs, a critical tool in the lifesaving process for victims of cardiac arrest. Even though not a single participant had prior training, the room was full of smiling, eager faces, and everyone said the class was a great idea.
Parents were happy their children were getting the training so young.
Said Monica Shah, mother of an 11-year-old in the class, on the inclusion of children as young as age 9, “This is why I was so attracted to it, because I think it’s really very, very important.”
Another agreed, “It’s a lifesaving skill. Everyone should know it.”
So why aren’t classes usually offered to this age group? McDermott said the upper body strength of children is not fully developed.
Elaine Stover, an EMS member, added, “I think there just isn’t the opportunity, and right now a lot of adults don’t know how to do it, so they’re less up to see it as being important for their kids.” However, she said, “I think middle school, even younger, can really master it.”
Victoria Koenigsberger, a student at Wilton High School and an EMS member, agreed. “Somebody who’s in middle school is perfectly capable of performing good CPR. … Never too early to try!”
McDermott finished with this important message: “Doing something is better than doing nothing at all.”
For those who missed the class, there’s no need to worry. Fleming and McDermott are already discussing plans to make this an annual event. With a turnout of almost 70 children, they’re both calling the class a success and looking forward to next year.