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Beating Hearts, Practicing EMS Skills

Image: Officer Tanya Ellis of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit demonstrates CPR compression alongside KDES student Freddie Scott.

Officer Tanya Ellis of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit demonstrates CPR compression alongside KDES student Freddie Scott.

As part of its community outreach, the District of Columbia Police Service's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit offered to come to Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) on September 19 to facilitate a CPR training session with the emergency services unit. Students learned how to perform chest compressions to keep a stopped heart beating until an automated external defibrillator (AED) can be brought over or until an emergency medical services (EMS) technician arrives on the scene.

"What if an infant needs CPR? Is the compression different from an adult?" This was one of the many questions fielded by District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Services rescue representatives during their demonstration to students in grades 3-8.

EMS demonstrator addresses students

Students practiced their skills using head and upper body torso dummies. The training started with adult CPR, but the students were curious about younger children. The EMS officer explained, "The adult heart is roughly the size of a closed fist. Think about what the size of a baby's fist would be. We need to use a different, lighter compression rhythm for infants and children." She then demonstrated on the dummy model, and the students copied her on their models.

"What if you get tired using your hands?" asked a student. "Can you use your elbows for compression?" As an alternative, yes, the officer responded. Elbows can be used on adults. She showed the students how, and then the students tried it out on their dummies.

practicing elbow compression

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit officers Myra Jordan and Tanya Ellis communicated with the students in American Sign Language. Their unit focuses on the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community in Washington, D.C. The officers in that unit perform patrols, respond to citizen complaints, and provide sign language interpretation to assist deaf and hard of hearing individuals during interactions with fellow officers.

Group portrait with presenters