With the common goal of safe schools, AAPD & HVA are training AAPS staff to respond to medical emergencies

This effort will help AAPS establish individual school medical emergency response teams and ensure that all schools are certified as MI HEARTSafe schools

A collaborative effort between the Ann Arbor Police Department, Huron Valley Ambulance, and the Ann Arbor Public schools is helping train school employees to be better able to respond in case of a medical emergency. 

According to Elizabeth Patten, AAPS Student and School Safety Facilitator, the common goal is to address the question: How can we make it better and safer for the students and the AAPS community?

This effort will help AAPS to reach its goals to 1) establish individual school Medical Emergency Response Teams (MERT) and 2) ensure that all schools are certified as MI HEARTSafe schools which require that at least 10 percent of staff in each building are certified in CPR and they must have a MERT team in their building.

AAPS Lead Nurse Keely Hoffman says she’s happy that the response has been so positive and that so many staff are willing to be a part of the MERT teams.

“We truly have a caring group of individuals committed to this training and ready to respond to medical emergencies in their building,” she said.

The AAPS nurse team has worked closely with building principals to organize MERT Teams, CPR training, setting up and running cardiac/medical emergency drills, and will be applying for MI HEARTSafe School certification for those buildings that are due this spring, she noted.

“We are so grateful for the collaboration between AAPS, AAPD, and HVA,” said Hoffman.

The Ann Arbor Police Department has provided several officer instructors to teach 10 American Heart Association/HeartSaver classes. They will have trained and certified approximately 225 AAPS employees in adult, pediatric, and infant CPR, CPR, and pediatric CPR; the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED); and how to stop traumatic bleeding. 

Huron Valley Ambulance personnel have been working with AAPS and AAPD to 1)  reduce the cost of the certification, 2) train additional instructors, and, 3) provide trauma bag supplies for all schools at cost to better assist school staff and emergency personnel in a medical emergency.

“What AAPD and HVA have done for the district is huge, said Patten. “AAPD was actually paying their instructors overtime to come in on their days off to do this and HVA actually volunteered to help us obtain the trauma bags at their cost. This was one-third of what we would have paid if we purchased these on our own. It was really apparent when working with AAPD and HVA that everyone had one common goal: How can we make it better and safer for the students and AAPS community?”

It’s a win situation for all concerned, said Nicole Balensiefer, community relations coordinator for Huron Valley Ambulance and Emergent Health Partners.

“We’re so excited to be working with AAPD and the Ann Arbor Public Schools to help them get their HEARTSafe certifications and ensure that they have well-trained staff who are prepared to respond in case of emergency or cardiac arrest,” she said. “This is really important for our organization as first responders because what happens between the time somebody goes into cardiac arrest and the time we arrive makes the biggest difference in outcomes.”

AAPD Police Officer Sophie DeTroyer, who is also an EMT with Huron Valley Ambulance, agrees that best results in an emergency depend on someone knowing what to do immediately while someone else calls 911.

Taking a break from doing hands-on CPR training for a room full of AAPS staff, she stressed how important it is for as many people as possible to be well-versed in CPR.

“That’s the first link to the chain of survival,” said DeTroyer, noting that children and adults alike can suffer from any type of emergency, including cardiac arrest.

“It gives people the chance to save a life.”

Staff from each school were chosen to be part of the MERT team and are undergoing the needed training to feel prepared to respond to emergencies in the school setting.

Training sessions are held at Ann Arbor Rec and Ed, a division of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and the Balas Administration Building.

According to migrc.org, sudden cardiac death of the young (SCDY), or sudden unexplained death, occurs when a young, apparently healthy person dies suddenly from a cardiac arrest or an unknown cause. (SCDY does not include deaths related to drugs, trauma, suicide, homicide, or long illness.) SCDY claims the lives of more than 300 Michigan children and young adults between the ages of 1-39 years annually.

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