First-grade first aidA teacher collapsing during the middle of a lesson may not ever happen at Sunnyside Elementary School. But if it did, students in Vicki Bjork’s first-grade class would know what to do.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
A teacher collapsing during the middle of a lesson may not ever happen at Sunnyside Elementary School. But if it did, students in Vicki Bjork’s first-grade class would know what to do.
That’s because Lavergne Dickerson, CPR and first aid teacher for Red Wing Community Education and Recreation, has visited the students twice in the past month, teaching them basic first aid and what to do in an emergency.
“Children can be a vital part in emergency care and emergency preparedness,” said Dickerson. “They can do their part.”
“A lot of times, we just avoid talking with children this young about emergencies. It’s better to be prepared than just pretend that it doesn’t happen,” Bjork agreed.
In her first lesson, Dickerson taught the students how to recognize an emergency situation and how to call 911. She then explained what happens next.
“That’s something that children typically don’t know,” Dickerson said. "They’re taught to call 911, but then no one tells them what to expect when the call is made and what to do after.”
Next, Dickerson simulated an emergency situation in the classroom by having Bjork “collapse” on the floor. As the “emergency” unfolded, Dickerson helped the students work through the process.
“At this age, that’s probably the most comforting thing, to know what to do next,” Bjork said.
One student was sent to get a teacher next door.
“It’s vital that they get help. We spent the first part of the first class learning how to effectively communicate that help is needed,” Dickerson said.
Two more students were dispatched to Bjork’s side to check whether she was still breathing. The rest of the class worked on staying calm.
“They just learned simple ways to continue processing the situation and managing the situation until an adult can step in,” Dickerson said.
Techniques included counting out loud as a group, listening carefully to directions and comforting classmates who were crying or upset.
“They learned ways to support each other,” Dickerson said.
Next, the students learned how choking happens and what they can do to help. The kids learned the international choking signal and crossed their hands over their necks to mimic it. Then, Dickerson showed the students abdominal thrusts and they practiced on their classmates.
The first-graders also learned about poisoning, fires, nosebleeds, how to stop bleeding and how to dress a burn. Dickerson brought first aid kits, and the students donned disposable gloves to clean and wrap gauze around “cuts” on a doll’s arms.
Because so much information was covered in the two lessons, both Dickerson and Bjork said that the students may not have absorbed all of it. Still, neither have any doubts that the students would be able to handle a future emergency.
“I really believe if Mrs. Bjork’s class had an emergency situation, they would know what to do,” Dickerson said. “They might be a little scattered, but they would know what to do.”
“At least they took a little piece of it away. … It’s good for them to know that there are certain steps to follow,” Bjork agreed. “It was a good life lesson.”