Mannequins at Oak Park Mall display clothes, but the manikins coming to middle and high schools in Johnson County can help save lives.
The Foundation for Shawnee Mission Medical Center, in partnership with Johnson County Med-Act, is giving 416 of the CPR practice dummies, valued at $28,000, to the schools this month so that students and staff can learn the lifesaving procedure.
Each manikin is a head and chest model of a person that feels similar to a real person’s chest when a person pushes down on it. The models help prepare people for what it might feel like when they actually have to use CPR on a person.
Johnson County Med-Act has already worked with most of the schools to train members of the faculty and staff, but now, they’re going to help those who know CPR learn how to teach it to eighth- and ninth-graders.
“The concept is to train the trainer,” said Vickie Franck, executive director of Shawnee Mission Heart and Vascular Services. “This (program) will be able to live and go on.”
Franck estimated that the manikins will last 10 to 15 years before needing to be replaced.
There isn’t a particular age at which it’s best to learn CPR. Ted McFarlane, chief of Johnson County Med-Act, said that you can learn the skill at any time, “as long as you’re physically able. We’ve had kids 7 or 8 years old do it, but most children that age aren’t going to have the presence of mind to do that.”
When you see CPR done in a TV drama, there’s two parts — the chest compressions and the breathing. The second part makes a lot of people squeamish about giving CPR.
McFarlane said that for the first six to eight minutes, doing chest compressions alone, without the mouth to mouth breathing, will be just as beneficial to the patient. In the classes that will accompany the manikins, they’ll be teaching compression-only CPR.
There’s also a special trick to knowing how frequently to push down on the patient’s chest. You get a rhythm going to a song, and for this particular maneuver, that tune is poetically “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
As for having the maturity to do the right thing in a scary situation, Aimee Eickmann, community education specialist for Johnson County Med-Act, said that 13- and 14-year-olds “are the best students we have.”
The two things Eickmann teaches people to consider before starting CPR are whether the person is breathing normally and if he or she is responsive. She said the students will have a good understanding of compression-only CPR after just one 30-minute lesson.
Perhaps no one knows the importance of these lessons better than Allyson DiNitto, a counselor at Blue Valley’s Oxford Middle School. Her school took delivery of the manikins last Wednesday.
One night in January, she woke up to hear her husband struggling to breathe. DiNitto called 911, and the operator stayed on the line with her as she put into practice the CPR training she’d received a year earlier.
“It was actually terrifying, but I was glad I knew” what to do, DiNitto said. “It really does feel different when you’re doing it on a person.”
Since that scary night, her husband has recovered, and DiNitto has used her own experience to get kids interested in learning CPR.
“I talk with them about how it made a difference to my husband,” she said. “It kind of put a different meaning to the experience for them.”
McFarlane said that for every minute a patient goes without CPR, their quality of life after they recover, if they recover, will be about 10 percent less.
“They can’t sit around and wait for us to get there,” he said.