Hilton students earning Red Cross certification


Seventh graders at Merton Williams Middle School are learning skills that could someday save someone’s life. 

As part of their health curriculum, students are learning American Red Cross first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator training, and can become certified in all three after passing the skills test.

Merton Williams Middle School teacher Claire Drexler shows her class how to perform CPR.

In its first year, the training is made possible by health teachers Megan Conway, Claire Drexler and Anna Murrer becoming Red Cross-certified state instructors. Once they were certified, the school district purchased three sets of equipment that come with adult and child manikins, and an AED. The teachers have access to resources for the course, including instructional videos.

Students are learning how to respond to various medical emergencies until professionals arrive, including administering an EpiPen, performing abdominal thrusts for choking and stopping severe bleeding. The CPR training is giving students the information and skills they need to help adults, children and infants during breathing and cardiac emergencies. They also are learning how — and when — to use an AED.

Hilton seventh grader Kiley Gordon practices her CPR skills. The manikin has lights that indicate the proper depth and speed of compressions.

“This is a really good unit to be learning,” Elio Conway said. “Otherwise, if a family member or child fell and was injured, how are we supposed to know how to keep them alive?”

“The training helps motivate people to take action when there is an emergency and makes our community a safer place,” Ayden Jarvis said.

Drexler said that the goal is to have every seventh grader certified by the end of May. The eight-hour training normally takes two weeks, but with in-person classes limited due to the hybrid scheduling, it is taking five to six weeks. 

Gavin Parina, seventh grader at Merton Williams Middle School, checks his manikin’s pulse and breathing before beginning CPR.

Students must pass written and skills-based tests to become certified. The usual $40 fee is reduced to $5, which the district is funding. Once the student passes, they receive their certification card through email and can have it laminated in the school library.

“The certification is for two years, so our vision is to offer the recertification training in ninth and 11th grades,” Drexler said.

“This is something everyone should learn,” Catarina Umbrino said. “If you don’t, it could cost someone’s life. You never know, one day you may have to save someone.”