PHOTOS: Students get hands-on with life-saving machine

By Sarah Stone
November 14, 2013 - 4:53pm

Students at Riverside Community School in Prince Albert learned a valuable and possibly life-saving skill.

On Thursday, Lyle Karasiuk with Parkland Ambulance visited the school to demonstrate and install an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machine. The machine was donated by Mike Horn on behalf of the Rock and Roads Cycling Club and the 2013 Pine Needles Mountain Bike Festival.

“We learned how to use an AED,” said Grade 8 student Regan Carriere-Robillard. “If somebody passes out and they’re not breathing then we can use the AED.”

Her classmate Zach Sewap took part in one of the demonstrations and said he now feels confident to use an AED in an emergency.

“If one of the teachers, I don’t know, doesn’t breathe or that stuff we can use the AED on [them],” Sewap said. “There’s a lot of kids here [and] that could just happen at any time.”

Riverside Community School isn’t the only education facility to receive an AED, Horn also gave one to École Holy Cross. He said he takes the money raised from the Pine Needles Mountain Bike Festival and donates it to community projects. This year after speaking with Karasiuk, he decided AEDs was the route to go.

“We chose Riverside [Community] School and Holy Cross School for a couple reasons. Myself, growing up, came to school here at Riverside; I did my junior high here. Riverside is a great school, a great community school and it really serves a large part of Prince Albert … and my two kids go to Holy Cross and we just felt that it was a good community school as well,” Horn explained.

Each AED costs around $1,500, but Horn said it’s money well spent.

“I feel like if it’s used in the future at one of these places that we’ve donated to, we’ve helped and it feels good to be able to help and we’re looking forward to the future and giving to more community projects,” Horn said.

Luckily Horn has never been in a circumstance where he has had to use an AED or even require one, but he feels it’s important to at least have the knowledge put in place.

“I think schools are becoming more aware and wanting to play a role in the education of [AEDs] because they are such a critical component and if there’s a chance they can save a life then it’s very important for everyone, not just at the schools, but just the general public to know,” Horn said.

Karasiuk demonstrated to the Grade 8 class how exactly to use an AED and even had students come to the front to try it out with a test unit, which doesn’t exert any electrical shock.

Karasiuk said with these additional machines there are “well over 240” AEDs in Prince Albert and surrounding district.

“That shows the community’s support. It shows the acceptance of AEDs in the community and it shows the desire by people like Mike’s group to make a difference and want to make a difference,” Karasiuk said.

He said community schools are the hub of the neighbourhood, which hold after-hour functions and daycares in addition to its daily classes.

“They come to rely on the community school is being that source of help, assistance and resources and the source of pride in their community,” he said, adding that the AED machines can be used by anyone in need after school.

The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division is finishing its five-year agreement to put AED machines in schools in the division. It started with the locations farthest from the city and worked its way towards the city’s centre, with a few still left without the life-saving machines.

However, Karasiuk said this is the first time someone has donated an AED to a school.

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