Columbia Valley Pioneer staff

The Columbia Valley is a safer place to live thanks to Grade 10 students from David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) and Open Doors.

A unique collaboration between Dr. Jane Fleet and Christina Paolini from the school’s physical and health education department has resulted in the students learning first aid to address health emergencies in the community.

Thanks to support from the Brett Wilson Foundation, DTSS Parents Advisory Council, the school district, and College of the Rockies, all Grade 10 students have the opportunity to complete the emergency first aid course.

“I learned how to do CPR, how to treat a wound and what to do if someone chokes,” said proud student Keegan Kelly. “I think the likeliness of these sorts of things happening are low, but it’s good to know just in case it happens.”

Paolini said students in Grade 10 are at a critical juncture where they’re seeking more independence and are engaging in activities such as working, driving, and socializing outdoors where emergencies can arise. 

“This training may guide them towards health care careers, given their exposure to risk-taking situations,” she said.

In addition to providing training, the school and the health care sector are passionate about raising awareness about the importance of quality CPR and the availability of defibrillators within the community. 

“After all, anyone can be a lifesaving rescuer, and the more people trained, the better the chance of survival in emergencies,” Paolini said. “With 100 new first aiders annually, it will make a significant difference in our community’s safety and well-being,” she added. 

Student Charlotte Carey said she liked how hands-on the course was. “It was not like we were just reading a book. We would read how to do it and then we would go and do it a few times with different situations. That is what I really love about the course, and I am very happy I got the chance to take it.”

Fellow student Myles Altmann said he feels more confident in responding to emergencies now. “My knowledge of CPR was wrong before the course, now I feel able to help.”

Fellow student Tyson Clarke said he’s going into the automotive tech industry where there could be a lot of workplace accidents. He plans on putting his first aid training on his resume.

Peer A. Karklin said they feel the training will be helpful in a medical situation, while Noveah Harris added it’s good to have basic first aid when it’s necessary to help someone in an emergency situation. 

DTSS students practise bandaging each other as part of first aid training.

Dr. Fleet told the Pioneer that she is very pleased without the outcome of their collaboration.

“Christina and I generated this idea last spring and to finally see it come to fruition is amazing.”

Fleet said the students have done the heart and stroke emergency first aid program. This involves CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) training along with regular first aid such as splinting, management of bleeding, etc.

“Having more people trained in the community is so valuable. Over all the years that I have worked as a physician we have slowly seen that the focus should not be on fancy medications and tubes, but really, on good quality CPR and early defibrillation.”

Fleet noted the more people in the community that know how to do this, there is an increased chance of survival from cardiac arrest.

“In our community, where so many people are out in the backcountry, the more people that know how to manage first aid emergencies the better.”

Fleet said the goal is to have this training ongoing every year for all Grade 10 pupils.

“This is a terrific age for doing this; the students are starting to wonder about their career paths, they are starting to want more independence, and it is the last year that physical education/health is mandatory.”