Haney Nursing students teach Bay County high schoolers first aid and CPR techniques

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PANAMA CITY BEACH — Haney Technical Center's Practical Nursing Program students joined together for a two-day event to teach cardiopulmonary resuscitation training techniques to the students at J.R. Arnold High School.

The Haney students provided two sessions Thursday and Friday morning to teach kids the psychomotor skills associated with performing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator (AED). The nurses paired up to instruct a group of 20 to 30 students at once.

“The district, since it was mandated, reached out to our school and asked if we would be willing to have our nursing students do the CPR, and, of course, we jumped on it,” said Haney Practical Nursing Program Director Sabrina Pfeffer. “It is great for my students since they can keep up with their CPR and learn how to speak in front of others.”

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Haney Practical Nursing student Ashley Thomas demonstrates proper CPR techniques to J.R. Arnold High School students.
Haney Practical Nursing student Ashley Thomas demonstrates proper CPR techniques to J.R. Arnold High School students.

They started their quest to train 3,240 Bay County high schoolers CPR last month after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 157 in July, which requires Florida high school students in ninth and 11th grades to take first aid and CPR training.

“I think it’s a great bill because when I looked into it, I was doing some research and Florida’s one of the last to incorporate something like this,” Pfeffer said. “There’s just phenomenal stories, like of a third-grader who has helped a teacher that has passed out, saying ‘Go get the AED.’ What a difference this can make.”

Sylvia Mack, a nursing student at Haney, is one of the 14 student nurses in the current program demonstrating techniques to students and coaching them through what to do. She said she is glad she can pass these skills onto others who might not know what to do.

“It’s extremely important because if you get into a situation, and you have that fight or flight mode, a lot of people will freeze up and they don’t know what to do. Hopefully, you’d call 911,” Mack said. “If you know the basics, you can start CPR, you can initiate that and someone else can call 911 and maybe go around the business or school or wherever you’re at to get that AED.”

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The Haney students also have been to Rutherford High School and plan to visit the other high schools in the district in January. Mack said the students are very receptive and open to learning, even the ones who seem quiet.

“We’ve had quite a few groups and you can tell that the shyer ones will kind of back away. So, we will incorporate them first off and those are actually the best ones to perform the chest compressions,” Mack said. “They’re pulling other kids and saying, ‘Come on, help me out.’ I think it’s great, seeing the shy ones step up.”

Mack said as she and the other students visit the high schools, they try to instill in the kids that cardiac arrest can happen at any time or at any age.

“The freshmen, a lot of them are getting into babysitting, so we’ve been teaching the Heimlich maneuver with the infants,” Mack said. “I think that is great knowledge to have, if you're babysitting an infant or a child, on how to clear their airway versus, god forbid, something else happening.”

It is also a learning opportunity for the nursing students to learn how to explain medical terms and instruct others on what to do, as they are always going to be educating once they get into the real world. Nikki McNeal, a nursing student at Haney, said it was cool to step into the role of instructor.

“It’s nice to teach someone a little bit of what I know,” McNeal said. “It helps me remember it myself, teaching it to people over and over again. It helps me get it down pat. And it’s a really good experience.”

As the nurses answer questions about not just CPR but about the various career fields associated with helping people, Pfeffer said she could see these events inspiring some high school students to pursue a career in nursing or health care.

“I hope we are inspiring people by showing them ‘Look, we’re out here in our community and getting to be involved,’” Pfeffer said. “It should be an exciting time.”

Pfeffer said she hopes the work the program is doing can help kids to ditch the mindset of “this isn’t important,” and realize they have the potential to save a life.

“It can be your mother, it can be your grandmother, it can be your best friend on the soccer field,” Pfeffer said. “You need to make sure you’re ready to do something. Doing something is better than doing nothing.”

The Haney Technical College Practical Nursing Program is accepting applications for its next program which starts Jan. 10, 2022.

This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Haney nurses give first aid, CPR lesson at A.R. Arnold High School

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