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West Feliciana students get hands-on training for CPR and AEDs

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ST. FRANCISVILLE - Everyone can help play a role in emergency situations, whether that's medical personnel, people within athletic departments or even students. Knowing proper techniques and having automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, on hand can ultimately save someone's life.

This vital resource is what ultimately saved Bills safety Damar Hamlin's life after suffering cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game against the Bengals.

The tragedy shocked many who watched it unfold on live TV, but something like this can happen to anyone.

"There are cases of athletes every year who will be running down a basketball court, and they'll have something with their heart that they never knew about," said Tiffany Beauchamp, head athletic trainer at West Feliciana High School.

This is why it's important to know what to do when something like this happens on or off the field. Students in West Feliciana Parish Schools have been learning how to properly administer CPR and how to operate AEDs.

"Daily, our kids come in and, and this is an EMR class, so they're learning basic first aid, basic safety, how to handle emergencies when they come up, what to do, what protocols to go through, what not to do," said Kyle Tutor, career and technical education coordinator at West Feliciana High School. 

AEDs have been accessible in West Feliciana Parish Schools for nearly a decade. They're also placed around the parish for anyone who may need them.

"We have churches and businesses right there next to our school board office. It's right there ready to be used if needed."

West Feliciana Schools Superintendent Hollis Milton suffered a heart attack in 2014, so he knows first-hand the importance of this life-saving technology.

"It can happen to anyone. Even a healthy athlete can go into cardiac arrest. We all have to be vigilant and training is what's required and of course having the resources like AEDs just make us a safer place," Milton said.

And now, anyone can make it safer from the palm of their hand.

There's also an app called PulsePoint that shows users nearby AEDs in case of an emergency.

"You register with the entity that manages in your community—which is West Feliciana EMS here—and when that emergency happens, the equipment needs to be there very quickly because the shock needs to be within the first few minutes. So, I think having that tracking system is absolutely vital," said Dana Wallice, the school nurse coordinator in West Feliciana Parish.

The app provides step-by-step instructions on administering CPR and how to use the AED, and it's free to download.

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