Clemson Partners With American Heart Association for CPR in Schools Program

Students in school performing CPR compressions on a test dummy.

Clemson University is the first university in the state of South Carolina to provide the American Heart Association CPR in Schools training.

The program launched its first student group training in January and in the future plans to expand to trainees from a pool that could include resident assistants, tour guides, recreation staff, Orientation ambassadors, student government and student-athletes.

Each CPR in Schools kit includes 10 manikins, an Automated External Defibrillator trainer device, instructional DVDs and other accessories.

“Once people start not only talking about hands-only CPR, but also know what to do in that type of situation, is going to make a big change in the outcome,” said Kelly Wilkins, executive director of the American Heart Association in the Upstate. “It’s great to be able to tell this story and show support for this program, and Clemson is truly the one that’s leading the way.”

Data provided by the AHA shows that over 350,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac events every year, with only a 10-percent survival rate. Having a bystander administer CPR can double or triple the survival rate.

“We are very proud to partner with the American Heart Association on this wonderful program,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Almeda Jacks. “We have more than 500 student organizations on our campus, so it made perfect sense to launch the CPR in Schools training with some of these groups. Our hope is to equip as many of our students as we can with the knowledge they need to assist others in the event of an emergency. These kits allow us to do just that thanks in large part to the generous contributions of Andrew and Julie Smart.”

Julie Smart is a researcher and instructor in Clemson’s College of Education. She and her husband, Andrew, a member of IPTAY’s board of directors, made a donation to purchase the training kits.

Smart became involved with the program after sharing a personal experience with the Heart Association’s director of development, Mary Ellen Prophitt.

“I was a professor for five years at Presbyterian College prior to my time at Clemson,” she said. “One of my students died at a party because of a heart attack. The other students who were around him didn’t know how to administer CPR. When Mary Ellen approached me about a program for colleges, I shared that story.

“We hope to impact at least one life by the decision to provide these kits,” she said. “We have a love for Clemson University students and wanted to sponsor something that would impact campus on a personal level.”

One of the students Smart met during the first training in January was Jake Watrous, a junior mechanical engineering major from Warrenton, Virginia. Watrous had surgery when he was an infant to repair multiple holes in his heart. Because of the surgery, he has an enlarged aorta.

While his experience has not affected his everyday life or ability to compete in intramural sports, he acknowledges the CPR in Schools program will provide fellow students with a useful skill in the event of an emergency.

“Because of my past, I’m more susceptible to need it,” Watrous said. “It’s comforting to think of more people on campus knowing what to do in CPR-required situations.”

Written by Philip Sikes, Clemson University Student Affairs.