cpr-aed-training-photoKnowledge is power. It’s a motto the Donna Independent School District believes could potentially save a life at DISD.

The district had only a few staff members certified as instructors for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and trained to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) for many years, Donna High School Athletic Trainer Steffanie Becker said. Those staff members were responsible for training other employees who wanted to learn how to perform CPR and use the AED.

“The only people who were certified instructors in the district were the athletic trainers,” Becker said. “All the instructing fell under us, it was on the shoulders of three to four people and it was difficult to find the time to conduct classes for the employees.”

Becker said having fewer instructors meant fewer employees receiving CPR and AED certification. The concern became evident last year following the death of a custodian. “When emergencies happen, people tend to reach out to a nurse or call an athletic trainer, but sometimes we’re not right there or we have to travel to get to where we need to go,” Becker said. “Having more people certified is crucial,” Becker said. “If we’re not available, they can step in and provide care and services faster than it may be for a 10-minute walk or getting over to an area.”

Becker said her wishes became a reality this year thanks to the support of Superintendent Fernando Castillo who approved an initiative that allowed 26 staff members representing key departments from across the district to be professionally trained as CPR and AED instructors.

“Superintendent Castillo wanted to make this a district-wide thing where you have an instructor representing transportation, maintenance, child nutrition, career technology, fine arts, all the main areas where there is a lot of activity,” Becker said. “Now, we have more people available and willing to help conduct classes.”

Becker said her goal is to get every district employee CPR and AED certified. In fact, the interest across the district is growing. Since August when the initiative was launched there have been more than 200 people certified. She said 53 were trained in one day. “In the event that there is an emergency we will have people in place to be able to provide the care,” Becker said. “The more people educated to save a life, it’s beneficial across the district.”

The head custodian for Donna ISD Maria Rodriguez was among those certified. “I was there when a janitor was choking on water and tried to perform CPR by doing what I saw on TV,” Rodriguez said. “It worked, but it scared me because I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right.”

Now, Rodriguez said she has more confidence after going through the proper training. “I’m so glad I was trained,” Rodriguez said. “Now I feel prepared and know what to do if there is an emergency.”