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Firefighters 'go big' with CPR training

Superior firefighter John Prendergast teaches seventh grade students how to use an Automated External Defibrillator at Superior Middle School Monday during a one-day training session. Students also learned hands-only CPR and received information on first aid and firefighting. Jed Carlson/

Another 325 Douglas County residents joined the ranks of potential lifesavers Monday when they learned hands-only cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at Superior Middle School.

"So everyone's going to wake up tomorrow being that much safer, and they don't even know it," said Battalion Chief Scott Gordon with the Superior Fire Department. "And it didn't cost them a thing."

Enbridge Energy footed the $1,300 bill to train every seventh grade student at the school how to perform hands-only CPR and use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). The kids also learned about life as a firefighter and basic first aid.

"It's a wonderful thing," said seventh grade health teacher Jeremy Bird. "It's amazing what we have right now with the students and fire department. It's just nice to spread the knowledge to even more people."

In January, the first mass CPR training took place at SHS. Off-duty firefighters with the department's paid for services division trained 300 seventh graders in one day.

"If we're going to do it, let's go big," Gordon said.

The education came in response to a bill requiring school districts to provide instruction in CPR and AED use.

"We were ahead of the schedule last (school) year," Bird said. "This year it's mandated by DPI."

An anonymous donor paid for last year's CPR blitz, a joint effort between the Superior School District, teachers and fire department.

"We all took kind of a leap of faith that it was going to work," Gordon said. "Not only did it work, it worked better than we thought and it got state recognition."

That wasn't the goal, he said, but it showed the impact one day of learning had on the community. He even heard anecdotes about those students sharing their knowledge with family members.

Enbridge Energy is already talking about funding future years of training, the battalion chief said, as well as a possible CPR class for teachers.

"As a matter of fact I'm meeting with the school board next week about that," he said.

Monday's CPR training kicks off a safety careers week for seventh graders. They will hear from Gold Cross Ambulance representatives Thursday, Superior Police Officer John Heinen Friday and Bird, a member of the Amnicon Volunteer Fire Department, today.

Moiya Rhoads, 13, said the training was fun, scary and overwhelming.

She said the CPR she learned could help if someone around her gets hurt. Teaching kids is a good idea, Rhoads said, because they're out in the community so much.

"We're trying to get knowledge into as many people as possible," said fire inspector John Prendergast. "The more people that know it, the higher likelihood that if somebody goes down, they've got the chance somebody there will know what to do."

The department has also begun to pinpoint where AEDs can be found in the community. They upload the information following an inspection, according to firefighter Corey Larson. He said government buildings, large manufacturers and educational facilities tend to have numerous devices.

A cell phone app that lists where AEDs can be found in the community is available at Larson said they've uploaded about 40 Superior units to the site so far.

Gordon said the school CPR program has the potential to give life-saving knowledge to hundreds of young people every year.

"Eventually, one of these kids will witness an arrest and they'll intervene and it'll save a life," Gordon said. "Oh, man, that will be the story."