Lessons in lifesaving

St. Charles County Ambulance District Lifesaver CPR classes for families credited with saving lives

By Brett Auten

It is a skill that is attainable, but you never know when it will come in handy during a time of need.

A local youth found the knowledge learned at a free CPR course, offered by the St. Charles County Ambulance District, held at a neighboring library and helped save the life of his sibling.

Kyle Prater was sitting in the backseat, enjoying a leisurely late summer drive with his nine-year-old sister Camden with ice cream cones in tow. Suddenly, a piece of waffle lodged in the throat of his sister, rendering her unable to breathe. Kim Prater, the children’s mother, pulled to the side of the road and before she could act, Kyle handed his cone to his mom and went to work.  After a few abdominal thrusts, he dislodged the obstruction and Camden’s breathing returned to normal and all was fine.

The 12-year-old Prater credited his calm, cool and collected demeanor in the situation to a free Lifesaver CPR class he took just a few weeks prior to the incident at the Middendorf Kredel Library in O’Fallon.

“I was pretty surprised at how calm I was,” Kyle Prater said. “I usually get nervous and anxious but I knew exactly what to do and how to do it and that kept me calm.”

Prater’s heroism came out of reluctance.

“I was with a friend and I didn’t want to take the class,” he said. “But my parents said I had to. I was soon extremely happy that I did take it.”

The St. Charles County Ambulance District’s Outreach Lifesaver course provides one-on-one instruction to residents of all ages.  Skills covered in Lifesaver classes include hands-only CPR and how to relieve choking. Prater’s actions and news of the story, which was picked up by ABC television affiliates from New York to Hawaii, has invigorated the SCCAD crew.

“It has energized our whole group,” said Kyle Gains, Director of Community Relations for the SCCAD. “Especially those who teach the sessions. It’s like, what I do does make a difference.”

The SCCAD courses were a big success over the summer held at several of the main branches of the St. Charles City/County Library District. Running from late May through August, an estimated 800 people attended sessions held at the library.

“It is something that we will definitely do again next year,” Gains said of the cluster of sessions.

SCCAD Outreach offers free lifesaver classes regularly at locations throughout the county as well as private sessions. The Lifesaver CPR courses are intended to get attendees comfortable with the idea of helping a victim of sudden cardiac arrest or choking until paramedics can arrive at the scene. Armed with the latest in interactive mannequins, the sessions are geared toward being more upbeat and fun and not mundane and dry as some would believe. The sessions are open format, meaning that individuals and families come anytime during the slotted advertised time frame and most complete the training in about 20 minutes.

“The sessions are family-friendly and completely interactive,” Gains said. “It’s more like a Six Flags ride. Plus, it gives you the chance to get all sorts of questions, like some of the legal ramifications of an emergency situation, for example, answered.”

Of course, if you want to stick around for extra training by getting supervised by a professional, they are welcome to practice on the interactive mannequin as long as they’d like. Completion of the class does not provide attendees with a certification card.

“I would definitely recommend taking the course,” Kyle Prater said. “Something as simple as eating an ice cream cone can cause a life or death or situation. It’s that easy and that quick.”

SCCAD’s next Lifesaver courses are slated for December 10 at the O’Fallon Family YMCA and the Barnes BJC Day of Play. To keep up with the latest in the scheduling of Lifesaver course or for a contact visit the SCCAD Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sccadems


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