BERKELEY HEIGHTS—While Daniela DeFronzo may work in a hospital, as a music therapist it’s highly unlikely may ever have to save a life there.
But should she find herself at the mall and must suddenly help someone in distress, DeFronzo is ready, for she must be re-certified in CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) every two years, along with every other clinical staff member at Runnells Specialized Hospital of Union County in Berkeley Heights.
The training, which includes the use of the Heimlich maneuver to save a choking victim and the proper operation of a portable defibrillator for a stopped heart, is conducted by veteran Union County Corrections Officers Lenny Mayer and Victor Pozsonyi, who also train the jail staff, not only for medical emergencies but the host of issues that must be dealt with at the lock-up. The classes are scheduled at various times throughout the year, with the most recent in early March.
The three-hour re-certification class for the clinical staff focuses not only on life-saving skills, but the need for those responding to an emergency to also look out for themselves so that there is not a second victim.
The two officers ran multiple scenarios for a recent class, from the safety precautions required at an accident scene to utilizing the appropriate breathing protection gear in case the victim should be HIV positive or have some other communicable disease.
In practicing on the dummies, plastic “barrier” face masks with one-way valves were used, as they would be in real life, to protect the emergency responder should the victim begin to regurgitate.
“Your safety is paramount,” Pozsonyi told the class, which included DeFronzo, a physician and several nurses.
Learning how to perform the appropriate number of compressions on the heart, and the differences in emergency care for an infant, child and adult, is one of the most important parts of life saving protocols, Pozsonyi said, noting that emergency training is moving away from traditional mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
“You can make a difference for someone whose heart has stopped,” he told the class. “The most important part of CPR is to get the blood flowing.”
One thing that is vital to understand is how critical time is in these situations, especially in the case of children.
“With a child, there are likely underlying factors and it’s probably not a cardiac arrest,” Mayer said.
That is why, should someone find themselves in the position of coming to the aid of a youngster who is unresponsive, it is more important to begin sets of CPR and then call 911, Mayer said.
“A child will deteriorate a lot faster than an adult without oxygen,” he said.
Even in a hospital setting, a CPR-trained staffer could likely get in 100 compressions before the crash cart arrives and that could make all the difference, Pozsonyi said.
Should the situation require using an emergency defibrillator, the small portable units will talk the user through the steps to be taken. But when it comes time to that shock to the heart, the utmost caution must be taken.
“You’ll have two victims if anyone is touching the victim,” Pozsonyi said.
By the end of the three-hour class, DeFronzo was glad she had taken the refresher course.
“I feel very confident if I had to do it,” she said. But if it does happen at the hospital, she said with a laugh, “I hope there’s a nurse nearby.”
MUSIC THERAPIST…Daniela DeFronzo practices CPR on a dummy after applying pads from a portable defibrillator to “shock” the heart and get it restarted. The defibrillator actually talks the user through each step and analyzes the victim to see whether an electric jolt is appropriate. . DeFronzo works at Runnells Specialized Hospital of Union County, where all hospital clinical staff at the county’s Berkeley Heights facility are required to be recertified in CPR and other life-saving skills every two years. Looking on, from left to right, are instructor Lenny Mayer, a Union County corrections officer, nurse practitioner Donna Templeton, nurse Gilberthe Macombe and head nurse Marie Israel.
CHECKING THE DEFIBRULATOR…while nurse practitioner Donna Templeton practices her compressions on a training dummy, CPR instructor Lenny Mayer, a Union County corrections officer, points to the control panel on a portable defibrillator what is used to send an electric shock to the heart. He cautioned the class, all staff at Runnells Specialized Hospital of Union County, that no one can be touching the victim when the shock is applied, or, he said, “there will be two victims.”
SAVING A CHOKING VICTIM…requires making a fist to then push in on the victim’s stomach, explained instructor Victor Pozsonyi, a Union County corrections officer. Pozsonyi and his partner, Corrections Officer Lenny Mayer, teach the CPR recertification courses that all clinical staff are required to take at Runnells Specialized Hospital of Union County in Berkeley Heights.
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