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In Power-packed Presentations, Transformation from Lay Person to Trained Responder

First Aid, CPR Training at Hamaspik Makes New Residential Staff Competent, Confident

July 24, '15

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

It’s shortly after 10:00 a.m. the morning of June 7, and Rachel David, RN, a nurse with Hamaspik of Orange County, is setting up shop in a conference room at Hamaspik of Rockland County.

In just a few minutes, she’ll be launching an hours-long training session on CPR and basic first aid for several Hamaspik direct-care employees.

Those Direct Support Professionals (DSP), the workers who form the front lines of care at Hamaspik’s bevy of Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) group homes, Day Habilitation (Day Hab) and other person-centered disability care programs, need constant competence in emergency medicine.

It’s one of the many safety- and quality-of-life rules and regulations of the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the state agency overseeing disability nonprofits like Hamaspik. And it, like all the rest, is meticulously adhered to by Hamaspik.

Mrs. David sets up the instructional CD on the big-screen monitor dominating the front of the room and removes several CPR training mannequins from their carry bags. The group of students, all DSPs with four different Hamaspik of Rockland County group homes, have walked in and seated themselves. Mrs. David begins.

Aside from behavioral issues that may inject themselves into the mix, treating medical emergencies involving individuals with disabilities is no different manual-wise than treating medical emergencies involving typical people, Mrs. David later says.

But right now, the instructor is reviewing respiratory basics.

An overview of how the lungs work quickly segues into the cardiovascular system, then into sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

With survival times in SCA cases significantly shorter than those of heart attacks or blood-vessel blockages, a critical part of any first-aid training is how to identify an SCA case—and what to do.

A good part of treating SCAs is using an automated external defibrillator (AED), the user-friendly device commonly found in public areas. These are designed to take the guesswork out of lay people using them on unconscious SCA victims in emergency situations. Nurse David concisely explains it all; the attentive audience quickly internalizes it.

The rest of the session consists of basic life-support responses: treating choking victims and airway obstructions, heart attacks or heart failures, and how to perform the Heimlich maneuver and CPR on infants, children and adults alike.

Under Mrs. David’s eagle-eyed supervision, each participant takes her turn learning precisely how to use the hands and arms to perform the rescue medical techniques, with the nurse demonstrating on the handy dummies and then observing each student demonstrate their newfound skills to her professional satisfaction.

The next day, Mrs. David and students reconvene in the classroom for another several hours of basic first-aid and emergency-response instruction.

Today, the subjects at hand are equally wide-ranging and vital, including head and eye injuries, diabetic and asthmatic reactions, controlling nosebleeds, proper handling of dislodged teeth, and, of high importance, treating burns.

In the course of the course, the registered nurse and Hamaspik veteran walks students through a host of critical basics, eliminating the chaff and cutting to the germ of each subject.

Mrs. David keeps it all interesting, informative and foolproof, later says Mrs. Esty Landau, the longtime Fosse Shvesterheim IRA Manager who is one of the attendees. “Now I would have no problem using an AED,” she later tells the Gazette.

By the time the class concludes at 12:30 p.m. (it began in the morning), the group of DSPs walk out of the classroom as duly trained and certified emergency-medicine first responders.

They’re not quite the EMTs who populate community volunteer rescue squads like Hatzolah (of which Hamaspik has had a few over the years). That takes a bit more than two sessions. But should any medical emergency arise at their Hamaspik programs, the individuals involved are sure to get the topquality and regulation-required professional first response that is par for the course at Hamaspik—and now, with the newest in-house training, certified once again.