CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — When someone goes into cardiac arrest, seconds can make the difference. One Midstate high school is making sure its students can save a life in an emergency.
Carlisle High School is working with the Peyton Walker Foundation to get all seniors hands-on training in CPR and using an AED. High school students are required to learn these skills in Pennsylvania, but the life-saving part is more important.
“They may be that first link in the chain of survival,” said Julie Walker, executive director of the Peyton Walker Foundation. “Cardiac arrest happens anytime, anywhere.”
Walker says teenagers could be the ones who save someone’s life, but only if they know how.
“We’re going to give them some skills, help them to understand, what is an AED, an Automated External Defibrillator,” she said, describing the training Carlisle High School seniors are getting.
The Peyton Walker Foundation is named after Walker’s daughter, who died 10 years ago from sudden cardiac arrest at just 19 years old.
“We’re starting a whole new program, Partner with Peyton, to really engage high school students,” Walker said.
Walker has spent the last decade educating people about sudden cardiac arrest and how people can help. Students at Carlisle High School are the latest.
“If you can make that difference, it really makes a matter of seconds to someone’s life,” high school principal Patricia Buffington said.
Buffington said when Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin had a sudden cardiac emergency in January, it sparked an idea.
“We will make this happen because it’s important for our students to leave Carlisle knowing how to possibly handle an emergency,” she said.
The Peyton Walker Foundation reached out, and a partnership was born, but Buffington said she is not in the driver’s seat.
“It’s all student-led for the most part, we just make sure we’re supporting our students to keep pushing the horizon,” she said.
Two seniors, Sarah Forrester and Jillian Grimes, intern with the Peyton Walker Foundation, and helped develop the program.
“You never know when someone could have a heart attack,” Grimes said. “If you’re ever put into it, hopefully you aren’t, but if you’re ever put into it that you know what to do and you can help if you’re able to.”
Most important is hands-on training.
“I want to see their reaction to like actually performing CPR and using an AED, saying, ‘Oh, I’m doing this because of this,'” Forrester said.
Grimes said getting to do that helps students better understand what to do.
“Well, what does that actually feel like? How deep do I have to go into their chest? Like, is this too far or is this not enough?” she said.
Walker said she hopes this training leaves students with skills that could change someone’s life.
“Something that a kid learns today, they may use and save another family from this devastating heartache that we live with every day,” she said.
The school has two more days of training to get to all seniors. The Peyton Walker Foundation will also be back in spring to offer the same training to juniors.