Hunched over the bright-blue foamy torso, Summit High School senior Tucker Hackett — hands interlocked, knuckles strained — counts out compressions under her breath.
“27, 28, 29, 30,” she says, as the artificial plastic chest rises with the telltale sign of life-saving success.
“You killed it!” her classmate says, as the two high-five in celebration.
“Technically, I saved it,” she says with a grin.
The 10 high school seniors in the advanced medical prep class are training this year to become certified nursing assistants. At the end of the school year they will take written and practical skills exams to qualify for their CNA licenses.
With a $3,700 grant provided by the Summit County Emergency Medical Services Board, Summit High School has been able to replace most of its CPR training equipment this fall. The CPR equipment includes training mannequins, rescue breathing masks, books in English and Spanish and other safety supplies.
“These are a lot harder and so they are more realistic,” student Danny Daigle said, referencing the new training torsos.
The funding request was co-sponsored by Summit County Ambulance Service, which assisted in acquiring the training equipment.
Karen Tosetti-Scott, RN, teaches the class and said it’s a great opportunity for students to test out the medical field and see if it’s something they actually want to pursue as a career.
“If you take this class and decide it’s not for you, then it’s still a great learning experience,” she said.
The seniors have vastly different plans for their medical careers — trauma nurses, physical therapists, neurologists, pediatrics and even reconstructive plastic surgeons.
“It’s nice to see how it all works and get the training we need,” said student Kate Raymond.
The program requires students to have clinic time with actual patients, as well as practice skills in the classroom. Hospital beds line the corner of one wall, for the future CNAs to practice making a bed with a patient in it, or helping someone to a wheelchair. Bailey Thompson said having her CNA license at the end of high school puts her and her fellow classmates at an advantage when it comes to applying for medical school.
“It can definitely help us get into college because now we’ll be one step ahead of everyone else,” she said.
The equipment will be used by the school district to provide low cost CPR and automated external defibrillation (AED) training to students and staff. All sophomores are trained as part of health and physical education classes.
Junior Henry Trobridge recently put those skills to use when he saved his younger brother Ollie. Their mother, Sheila Trobridge, said her younger son looked pale and suddenly tipped over on the couch, hands twitching, eyes closed.
“Henry used his CPR and brought [Ollie] back,” she said. “It was a scary situation for us, but Henry was definitely the hero.”
Henry instructed his mom to call 911 as he performed the steps he’d learned in school to resuscitate his brother.
“You never know if in the heat of the moment a kid is going to remember something like that,” Trobridge said. “But he had the presence of mind to do what he had to do.”
Senior Herson Olivares recently saved a 3-year-old neighbor who was choking on a lollipop, putting his CPR skills to the test as well.
In a prepared statement, Marc Burdick, Summit County Ambulance Service director, said high-quality CPR makes the difference between life and death.
“Our own experience here in Summit County and across the region is that we continue to see dramatic improvement in rates of survival from sudden cardiac arrest when CPR is started quickly after someone collapses,” he said.
In the classroom, the seniors curl their index fingers up toward their thumbs, creating an “m” and “p” hand signal they like to flash whenever someone mentions “med prep.”
Shayne Small of Summit County Ambulance Service said seeing the students interact with the equipment in the classroom was a great sign there are sure to be more first responders in households soon.
“I wish we had this kind of equipment when I was in school,” she said.
Tosetti-Scott said there is a fair amount of competition to get into the med prep classes, and she’s gotten plenty of positive feedback about the program.
“The biggest thing is to be able to react in an emergency,” she said. “It empowers them.”
The real-life experience of seeing what lies ahead with a career in medicine is exciting for the med prep students, all who were already confident they would pass the CNA exam next spring.
Tosetti-Scott said having new, working equipment can help continue to grow the number of students who are CPR certified and hopefully save more lives in the future.
“I want them to walk away from any situation knowing they did they best they could do — that they embraced the challenge and knew what to do,” she said.