Kim CrowleyKim Crowley, RN of Meridian Health instructs eighth graders at Forrestdale School in the use of an Advanced External Defibrillator.

During their classes in Health and Physical Education on January 6-8, seventh and eighth grade students at Forrestdale School in Rumson learned critical lifesaving skills, courtesy of an initiative from Meridian Health.

Presented under the banner Create a Community of Lifesavers, the initiative allowed students to receive instruction in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) compression, as well as abdominal thrust methods for treating choking victims. The 40-minute sessions were presented and overseen by Meridian Health representatives Kim Crowley, Ashley Davis, Angela Norosavage, and CJ Sabosik.

The wheels were set in motion when the school’s Health teacher Heather de Laszlo, RN received a letter outlining the need for and availability of Creating a Community of Lifesavers. Made possible by a partnership between Meridian Health and the American Heart Association, the program is being offered at no cost to local schools.

“For a number of years I taught the Forrestdale School seventh graders about CPR, but this has become more difficult to schedule in recent years,” said de Laszlo.

With instruction from a DVR and assistance from the Meridian Health CPR instructors, the Forrestdale students learned all of the crucial lifesaving steps to take (in proper order) in cases of  cardiac arrest. They also worked to perfect their hands-only CPR techniques using “Little Annie” mannequins.

In addition, the students received instructions for assisting choking victims, as well as detailed information on using an Advanced External Defibrillator (AED) on adults and children.

Each student received an instructional booklet from Meridian Health and will be awarded a Certificate of Participation. The participants were encouraged to take the next step by taking part in complete CPR certification courses.

The Meridian Health instructors answered many questions during each session, and reported being “very pleased” by the students’ seriousness of purpose and dedication to learning about CPR.

Heather de Laszlo noted that Meridian’s CPR training was a perfect complement to Forrestdale’s Health curriculum, which includes an introduction to First Aid for fifth graders, more detailed First Aid instruction in seventh grade, and a Red Cross Babysitting Class for sixth grade students.

“We are so appreciative of the instructors’ generosity with their time and talent,” said deLaszlo. “The students have learned life-saving skills that can make a tremendous difference.”