Chesy Middle School students work on their lifesaving skills

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

CHESAPEAKE — The eighth graders in Greta Lewis’ class at Chesapeake Middle School have been learning a different kind of ABCs: A for air, B for breathing and C for circulation.

Earlier this week, the eighth-grade class of 136 students completed a four-day class to become certified in CPR, first aid and the Heimlich maneuver.

Although not a part of the usual curriculum, the teens didn’t seem to mind the extra assignment, though breathing into the mouths of plastic torsos and performing the Heimlich on classmates may have proven a little awkward.

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“In the beginning, they were a little shaky about it,” Lewis, an eighth-grade science teacher, said with a smile. “But, then I explained the importance of it and they understood.”

Lewis said she has been requiring her students to take the class for the past five years. The reason is simple, she said.

“If just one student comes back to me and says ‘I used this (CPR),’ then it will be worth it,” she said.

Dave Ridenour has taught the class since its inception.

He said the experience has been worthwhile and the students are always eager to learn. He dubbed it “learning their ABCs”

“This (CPR) is something they need to know. The younger we can get to the kids they better,” he said. “I think every school should do it.”

Ridenou now serves as a paramedic guard at Sun Coke, a certified car seat instructor and a bus driver for Chesapeake schools. Although he has a busy schedule, he said he always makes time for the eighth-graders.

“I really felt this need to give back to the community,” said Ridenour, a resident of Chesapeake for 47 years. “I love teaching it and I love working with the kids.”

He said in addition to life-saving skills, he is also teaching the students to be calm in emergency situations and to respond in a quick, clear-thinking manner.

Brittany Gillespie said the CPR class has been particularly important to her. Her mother and father both have health problems, she said, and they could need her assistance in the future.

“I hope that this keeps my family safe. I’m glad I took it (CPR) because I could use it later and it may help save someone’s life,” she said.