Equipping Students for Emergencies, Andover Offers Free CPR Training

In the sudden, life-or-death situation of cardiac arrest, most people do not know what to do. Panic and hysteria set in immediately, and the window of saving the victim’s life flashes by. CPR training needed to successfully save a victim, however, is easy, valuable and useful for any member of the public to possess.

Wendy Cogswell, Community Relations Officer, has been recently trying to equip the community with necessary tools. Working with Sam Zager ’15, Cogswell is offering several free classes on campus throughout the spring and summer to allow the Andover community to become certified in Automated External Defibrillator – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (AED-CPR).

For Zager, being CPR-certified has a much greater significance in his own personal life.

“When my brother was 17, a good friend of his and he were horsing around after school. His friend gave him a friendly punch to the heart, nothing too hard, but by a crazy fluke, my brother’s heart stopped from a condition called commotio cordis. It is the leading cause of death among young athletes. He dropped to the ground, and his friend didn’t know how to perform CPR. There was no AED nearby, and by the time my brother got to the hospital, he was gone,” said Zager.

Zager continued, “Had his friend been able to perform CPR or use an AED (automated external defibrillator), my brother might still be alive today. I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with that, especially because it can be so easily prevented.”

Empowered by this tragic experience in his own life, Zager is now motivated to help more people learn these simple yet necessary skills that may one day save another person’s life. For him, the practice of CPR is the ultimate example of “non sibi,” and there is no better place to help educate people on the topic.

Zager worked with Maureen Ferris, Director of Student Risk Management, and Thomas Conlon, Director of Public Safety, throughout the fall and winter. Ferris and Conlon funded the purchasing of more AEDs to be placed around campus. He then approached Cogswell in January of this year, and the two of them produced the concept of free CPR-certification classes.

After establishing the program, Zager worked with Christopher Capano, Director of Student Activities, to post advertisements on PAnet urging students to contact him if they were interested in the course. It was overwhelming success — within two weeks four classes were completely full and a waiting list had to be created.

“It doesn’t take that much time to become CPR certified and it is an important life skill. I am so grateful that [Zager] and [Cogswell] gave me the opportunity to take the course and become certified. I strongly hope more classes like the one I took will become available so other students can learn how to save someone’s life if need be,” said Hannah Sorkin ’14, a participant in the CPR/AED course.

On Cogswell’s part, she volunteered her own free time to teach the classes. Her motivation stems from pure humanitarianism, as her reward is seeing more people empowered to provide life-saving care. She has provided CPR a number of times and describes it as a wonderful experience. Every time she performs CPR, she becomes more and more confident in her abilities to help provide emergency care to save a life.

Zager and Cogswell said they are extremely pleased by the overwhelming show of enthusiasm and support for the certification classes by the general Andover community, and also the amount of eager participants. They hope to extend the program to the fall of next year and possibly beyond, so more members of the Andover community can learn the skill.

Requiring only two hours for certification, the class is held in the Abbot Hall School Room and in the Elson Art Center. The very first class for this program was held on Sunday, April 27, although classes will be held on Thursdays in the future. Classes are open to both teachers and students, although they are separated between the two, so that each class does not exceed six people.