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When medical emergencies happen, they’re ready

Lowell — A five-member team of administrators and support staff members worked through a simulation of an extreme bleeding incident, learning to compress and pack a wound and apply a tourniquet to a dummy leg.

The Stop the Bleed training aimed to prepare the school’s Medical Emergency Response team in the event of a life-threatening bleeding incident. The afternoon training also included how to use Narcan, an opioid overdose treatment in response to overdose deaths nationwide, including in youth

Registered nurses Delynn Wright and Linda McElroy led the training, working to help the team be prepared to jump into action in the event of an emergency.

“Severe bleeding can definitely happen from many types of trauma, and a gunshot wound is one of many things,” said Wright.

‘A large part of what we do is training the school staff so they are prepared to respond to an emergency even when we are not here.’

— Lowell Area Schools district nurse Delynn Wright

Wright and McElroy cover all schools in LAS with school nursing service, “dividing and conquering” to meet a spectrum of health-related needs, said Wright. But they rely on staff members to respond quickly, and have increased medical response training district-wide in the past year.

Wright began her role last school year, which made possible more district-wide training led by her and McElroy. 

The duo trained 70 district staff members last year, including the entire bus garage, in CPR and first aid. The training also covered information on asthma, allergens and diabetes. 

“Gone are the days when you had one school nurse in each building and they handled all the medical needs. Now, as district nurses, a large part of what we do is training the school staff so they are prepared to respond to an emergency even when we are not here,” Wright said.

“These medical emergencies, it doesn’t matter about socioeconomic status. It can happen anytime, anywhere, in any school district to any student.”

School counselors Melissa Simkins and Katie Erickson, and social worker Erin Rose practicing the steps to stop bleeding

MERT teams in every district school are made up of staff members, often administrators and physical education teachers, who volunteer to serve on the team. They are CPR-certified, and teachers and aides are trained to contact them if there’s an emergency. Each school also has a medical emergency response bag with tourniquets and gauze, bandages, EpiPens, glucose gel, a glucometer, pocket mask and a pulse oximeter.

Read more: Diabetes management ongoing for students, school office staff

Ron Acheson, assistant middle school principal, practiced applying the tourniquet. He said he wanted to be part of the MERT training so he knows what to do if something happens that requires medical responses. He said he hopes he never has to put the training to use.

“In the realities of what’s happening in this world, it’s better to be prepared,” he said.  

Also on the MERT team, Abby Wiseman, middle school principal, said it’s important to her to have her staff well trained.

“As administrators, we are often the first ones to respond in case of an emergency. It’s important that we are trained personnel and have the skills and knowledge to be able to respond in any emergency situation.”

Read more from Lowell: 
Another year of practice, perform, perfect
Let’s bring them in 

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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