Wheaton and Norton officials have teamed up to improve safety on campus and in town. Through a program called Citizen CPR, Wheaton’s peer health advocates, Norton Emergency Medical Service staff and Norton High School faculty will work together to train all Norton high school students in CPR, which can double a cardiac victim’s chances of surviving. Wheaton’s resident advisors also will receive the training.
Imagine: Someone has a heart attack right in front of you. Only you can save them. Do you know what to do?
Other than calling 911, most people don't. However, Wheaton and Norton officials have teamed up to change that in the local community. They are collaborating to improve safety on campus and in town, as well as offer Wheaton students long-term opportunities for leadership, field learning and community service.
Through a program called Citizen CPR, Wheaton's peer health advocates, Norton Emergency Medical Service staff and Norton High School faculty will work together to train all Norton high school students in CPR, which can double a cardiac victim's chances of surviving. Wheaton's resident advisors also will receive the training.
To support the initiative, the Wheaton College/Norton Citizen CPR Fund has been established to help purchase CPR Anytime training kits that include a 30-minute video and an inflatable mannequin on which to practice. "Our goal is to train 2,000 Norton citizens, starting with the entire Norton High School student body," said Craig Andrade, associate dean of health and wellness and director of student health services.
Citizen CPR is part of a larger plan to designate Wheaton and Norton as HeartSafe communities. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, through its Office of Emergency Medical Services, and the American Heart Association, are working to help cities and towns improve the possibility that anyone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest will have the best chance for survival. The HeartSafe campaign has been extended to include colleges and universities because of the large populations and designated response systems.
According to the American Heart Association, nearly 80 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home and are witnessed by a family member. Only about 6.4 percent of victims survive because the majority of those who witness the incident don't know how to perform CPR.
The Wheaton peer advocates participating in the program hope to improve that figure. They are: Sarah Amin '10, Alycia Buchheit '10, Jared Floch '11, Caroline Gassner '10, Sarah Karevicius '09, Kaitlyn Kasinskas '10, Reid Lavoie '09 and Anna Littlehale '10.
Amin, a biology major and a Wheaton health and wellness intern, said she welcomes the opportunity to train others in CPR. "If I can save just one life by merely educating Norton high school students, it would make all of my volunteer efforts worthwhile," she said.
Floch, a psychobiology major with a minor in chemistry, already has experienced the power of CPR. While in high school, he worked as a certified EMT and had to help save an elderly cardiac arrest victim. "I was 16 years old. I always thought to myself when we were on our way to the calls, ‘How could I help someone; I'm only 16 years old? But when I got to this call I knew that if we didn't immediately help the patient, she would die…. We started CPR and continued it for what seemed like forever. It really is a blur now. Everything happens so quickly. But I feel so good that I helped that lady that night."
Locally, the core partners in the CPR program are the Norton school department, the town fire and rescue department, Sturdy Memorial Hospital and the American Heart Association.
In August, Andrade and Wheaton Assistant Director of Public Safety David Bamford met with the town's board of selectmen and several other officials to discuss the program.
Norton Fire Chief Richard Gomes said the biggest benefit of the program is that it is a collaboration that broadens the impact.
Andrade agrees: "This is an exciting initiative that advances our educational mission, strengthens our community relationships and provides life-saving benefits to many friends and neighbors."