Life savers
Sembach school staffers practice emergency response

Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***There she was lying in an empty Sembach Middle School classroom, not breathing and with no heart rate. “Annie” was 50 and on blood pressure medication. It could be from 15 to 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive from Kaiserslautern to Sembach, at the top of the hill to the school.

“A co-worker goes down, that’s emotional,” said Tech. Sgt. Arthur Clardy, 435th Civil Engineer Squadron Sembach district chief. “What do you do?”

School nurse Thomas Panzlau was first to assess the situation. “Annie” is a life-size doll and this was a drill.

Teacher Sheri Sedovic went for the Automated External Defibrillator — a computerized medical device — and teacher Paulette Stevens was on her knees starting cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The school secretary had already called “112” to reach emergency response services for an ambulance and principal Robert Richards had ordered a school-wide lockdown to keep the halls clear for emergency crews when they arrived.
Mr. Panzlau and the two teachers, both recently certified in CPR, have never had to perform CPR on a colleague.   

“We wanted the first time to be a training exercise,” Mr. Panzlau said.
Mr. Panzlau organized the drill with Sembach emergency responders, and was the first school in the KMC area to do it. The staff needed to practice the scenario to be prepared should a school staffer suffer a heart attack or go unconscious for another reason.

“We do fire drills,” Mr. Panzlau said. “But we have never done this kind of drill.”

Sergeant Clardy said it’s a good idea for school employees to practice their response in this type of situation. CPR training for teachers is recommended, but not mandatory, he said. A school putting together its emergency response plan should first know who is CPR trained, he said. He hopes the Sembach drill is the beginning of similar drills at all KMC schools.

“Due to the location, Sembach does not have an operating ambulance staff or crew on station and we must rely on the first responders and our trained EMTs to handle any and all medical emergencies until the arrival of the DRK,” Sergeant Clardy said.

Not long ago, a Department of Defense Dependent-Europe teacher had a heart attack at school, said Mr. Richards.

“It brought the scenario home that it could happen anywhere,” he said.

All of the DODD schools have AEDs, which are used to shock a person.
The small lunch-box size box has an automated voice that talks a person through the procedure. But, there must be a plan, said Mr. Panzlau. A school emergency response team must know in advance which  person retrieves the AED, which one alerts the principal of the scene and who is qualified to give CPR.

“A co-worker goes down, it will always be emotional,” Sergeant Clardy said. “You practice enough, you can go on autopilot.”