Student leadership skills, public speaking practice, and bystander emergency care training – it all comes together when a group of teens established their own ASHI Training Center (TC) to teach their peers and their community the lifesaving skills of compression-only CPR.
Amanda Retallack teaches the biomedical sciences program as part of Project Leads the Way (PLTW) at Lincoln High School in the Western Placer Unified School District in Lincoln, CA. The biomedical program is one of Lincoln’s career technical education (CTE) courses of study, which is a state-wide program “[T]hat involves a multiyear sequence of courses that integrates core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge to provide students with a pathway to postsecondary education and careers.”
Part of that biomedical training is to become certified in CPR. Why not take that experience a step further and let the kids teach CPR themselves, potentially preparing them for a career in emergency care training? When 10 students said they were interested in becoming instructors, Lincoln High used part of their CTE Incentive Grant from the California Department of Education to help the students attain their authorized ASHI instructor credentials.
Jason Price, the principal and founder of Synergem Consulting and a parent of three in the WPUSD, worked with Amanda to set up the TC. Jason is also a former paramedic and emergency care trainer, and has many years of experience in determining what makes a successful CPR instructor.
“The instructors who receive the most positive feedback don’t necessarily come from the healthcare industry. What students respond to is a dynamic and approachable teacher. The kids who wanted to become ASHI instructors were completely into it, from the subject matter to the skills to learning how to teach it. They’ve become excellent facilitators, especially when they’re teaching their own peers. It’s just a different learning experience when there aren’t as many degrees of separation between the one who teaches and the one who is taught,” he explains.
The Lincoln High TC project was first proposed in October, 2017 and these enterprising student teachers completed the instructor development requirements and training to become certified in ASHI’s Basic Life Support (BLS) program in March, 2018. So far, they’ve had the opportunity to offer one compression-only awareness class to their peers at Lincoln High. The feedback was positive. Participants said they were excited for the chance to take the class, that they were surprised how fast the time flew by and, most importantly, that they learned valuable skills.
As for the student teachers, they have a whole new appreciation for the hard work that goes into preparing and leading a class. “There were very few adult hands in this whole process,” Amanda says. “They knew it was all on them, and they really stepped up and tried to become good teachers. It’s an exceptional opportunity for those students who have an interest in leadership. These young people are graduating high school with experience as teachers and as entrepreneurs running a training business.”
These ambitious young people are eager to take their emergency care training abilities outside the walls of Lincoln High. “We see them training school and district staff, and eventually offering classes to the- community itself,” says Jason. “As a paramedic, I’ve seen that look people have when they are witnessing a medical emergency and they feel guilty because they don’t know how to help. These student teachers want to create an army of community lifesavers who are unafraid to at least try to help in an emergency.”
Why did Lincoln High choose ASHI as their training provider? In addition to ASHI’s core programs, the availability of specialized training like babysitter safety, wilderness first aid, and advanced bleeding control was a big part of the appeal. The user-friendly online administration system was another win, making it easy for the student teachers to track their classes and supplies.
Jason sums up the passion behind the project this way: “People don’t do CPR because they’re afraid they’ll do it wrong. But terrible CPR is better than no CPR, and no CPR is what we see most of the time out in the world. We want our student teachers to think about what it takes to encourage someone to feel confident enough to try, so they can empower their own students to make a lifesaving difference. All while learning valuable vocational lessons for themselves.”
Interested in becoming an emergency care instructor? Learn more about why Training Centers across the country choose ASHI and MEDIC First Aid training to help make their workplaces and communities safer, and how you can join our team.