County Limerick school leading the way as students train in lifesaving CPR skills

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Teacher and CPR 4 Schools Facilitator Mr Noonan was teaching Keri Murphy, Sarah Singleton and Daniel O'Connor CPR Picture: Marie Keating

Teacher and CPR 4 Schools Facilitator Mr Noonan was teaching Keri Murphy, Sarah Singleton and Daniel O'Connor CPR Picture: Marie Keating

HAZELWOOD College is leading the way when it comes to training people in life-saving CPR.

Earlier this year, in a move inspired by Hazelwood teacher, Michelle Herbert, and with the support of the Irish Heart Foundation, training was given to staff from 25 schools all over Munster, with the aim of getting them to go back and train their own school communities.

Then, last week, the Dromcollogher school reached another significant milestone, holding its first Celebrating Us day and training all its students and staff in CPR and preparing all its 600 people to go back into their home communities with the skills and confidence to save lives.

And it all took place on a day that will be etched forever into the memory of Michelle Herbert. On October 9, 2016, Michelle, who teaches chemistry and agricultural science in the school, suffered a heart attack while playing for Newcastle West in the Limerick Junior Camogie Final.

But thanks to the quick thinking of the woman who was marking her, Sarah Jane Joy, Michelle received CPR and defibrillator shocks on the pitch, and survived.

Michelle and Sarah Jane both appeared on the Ray Darcy show, recalling their dramatic tale of two years ago but also putting forward a passionate case for CPR training. The message that it can save lives was eloquently but forcefully obvious.

Sarah Jane Joy was also one of a number of guest speakers who joined students and staff in Hazelwood last week. Others included Clare hurler, Podge Collins, Irish Triathlon star, Caroline Hayes and Clare Scanlan whose son Darragh died as a result of cardiac arrest in the young in 2011. And of course, Michelle Herbert.

“No one knows when they may need to use this skill so it is vital that as many people in the country as possible are confident in this lifesaving skill,” Michelle told the school community.

“At Hazelwood College, we are delighted to be helping create a generation of lifesavers who will have the skills and knowledge to recognise someone in a cardiac arrest and perform CPR.”

Representatives from the Irish Heart Foundation and their mobile unit were on campus throughout the day and the Liam McCarthy Cup made an appearance.

“Michelle and her colleagues here in the school are incredible ambassadors for CPR 4 Schools and we are thrilled to present the school with a Special Recognition Award to acknowledge the exceptional work they have done to train students and staff in CPR,” said.

Laura Hickey, Children and Young People programme manager with the Irish Heart Foundation.

“We’re delighted to be here in Hazelwood College for today’s event.

“5,000 lives are lost every year in Ireland to sudden cardiac death, that’s 13 lives lost every day,” she added.

“But CPR is a lifesaving skill. If you start CPR, you can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival. Through the Irish Heart Foundation’s CPR 4 Schools programme, we are hoping to train 360,000 secondary school children in CPR and in the process create a new generation of lifesavers.”

With sessions on yoga, mindfulness, cookery, physical activity as well as CPR instruction and a barbeque, the focus in Hazelwood was firmly on equipping students with ways to face the challenges of modern living, including social media and rising stress levels.

It was, the school’s Heart Committee explained, about ensuring that all students and teachers left the school, not only able to undertake CPR but feeling positive, energised and with a new appreciation for life.