TFHS receives Automated External Defibrillator and CPR training

  • A representative from KEVS Foundation hold the new equipment donated to Turners Falls High School. Contributed Photo

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TURNERS FALLS — Thanks to a compassionate student and her mother, Turners Falls High School is the proud owner of an additional Automated External Defibrillator in case of a cardiac emergency.

The AED was presented to the school during their weekly Tuesday morning meeting by a representative from KEVS Foundation, which seeks to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest in children and young adults. AEDs have a start button that, when pressed, direct the user step-by-step how to correctly operate it.

KEVS Foundation was created in 2011 after Kevin J. Major, a 19-year-old athlete, died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). He showed no symptoms before his death. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 5,000 people between the ages of 15 and 34 die each year from sudden cardiac arrest, which is often caused by HCM.

Now, KEVS Foundation, led by Kevin’s mother, sponsors cardiac screenings for young people in the community, as well as education on CPR and AEDs. The foundation hopes to prevent other families from experiencing the same tragedy Kevin’s family did, and it has donated over 75 AEDs locally.

A compassionate cause

Amy Johnson, and RN and mother of TFHS student Eliza Johnson, was at work one day discussing AEDs with her colleagues. One told her about KEVS Foundation, so Johnson went home and researched it with her daughter. They watched videos and learned about the foundation together.

“We were ... touched by it, the story, and how they’ve risen above all the sadness to do something positive,” Johnson said. “We thought it was a great opportunity to do community service.”

The Johnsons applied to get an AED from KEVS Foundation late last year.

Before the donation, TFHS had three AEDs in their building: one in the main lobby, one in the second floor outside the gym, and one near the pool.

“What this (donation) gives us is one that will be mobile out in our (athletic) fields,” Principal Annie Leonard said. “That’s super important because you have no idea when or where there might be a need.”

Now the school will have another AED easily accessible for athletes. It’ll be kept in the garage where the school stores their sporting equipment, which is a central location to athletic fields.

According to Johnson, the process was as simple as filling out an application to the KEVS foundation. During the process, Johnson talked to Turner Falls’ athletic director, Adam Graves, who agreed that another AED would be extremely beneficial to the school.

One of the requests from KEVS Foundation is that a school awarded with an AED should also do an education piece to “pay it forward,” so students can receive additional training on how to save someone experiencing cardiac arrest.

Now, hands-only CPR will be taught to high schoolers in small groups during the half-hour GAP (Guided Academic Progress) period. Eighth-graders will participate in training with their PE teacher, Dave Kennedy.

In addition to receiving the AED, the presentation was the initial step in training all current high school students to use the AED and hands-only CPR techniques.

Leonard mentioned that the CPR training isn’t Red Cross certified, but it’s “enough information to have someone be helpful” in a dire situation.

“Anyone who has basic information has the potential to save a life,” Leonard said.

“We’re really inspired by the efforts of Eliza and her mom,” she commented. “This is a really nice project initiated by a student and parent team. We’re really lucky.”