Could You Save a Student’s Life?

Are you certified in CPR and first aid? Many school districts require their teachers to be certified, but others don’t. It’s not uncommon for students to face a crisis in school. Would you be prepared for the following emergencies?

  • Choking
  • Someone who is unconscious and/or not breathing
  • Burns
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Poisoning
  • Head, neck, or spinal injuries
  • Seizure

“If your school has a full time nurse, he or she can’t get there as fast as you can in the classroom, and seconds matter,” NAfME member Carolyn Kramkowski says. She recently used the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a carrot from a student who was choking and turning blue in the cafeteria.

Getting Certified

“Many PE teachers and athletic coordinators are not only certified in first aid, but are also required to get the more intensive training that will also allow them to teach a basic course,” NAfME member Carolyn Bennett says. “At my school, one woman offers an afternoon course for free during one of our end-of-the-year professional development days. The school district covers the fee for the actual certification for any teacher. Perhaps you should talk to your administration about starting an opportunity like this at your school!”

Bennett suggests, “If your school district doesn’t have someone who can do this, perhaps you could get instructor certification and offer your instruction—enable every teacher to know what to do!”

Where to Go for Information

Kramkowski recommends contacting your local American Red Cross Chapter. “They offer so many ways to take classes. You can take them online and just go for the practical test. You can take a class at the local chapter, or you can do a combination of both.”


The American Red Cross website has information on “Preparing and Getting Trained.”

Carolyn Kramkowski teaches at Shaw Visual and Performing Arts Elementary Community Education Full Service School in St. Louis, Missouri.

Carolyn Bennett teaches chorus at Wheeler Middle/High School in North Stonington, Connecticut.

Linda C. Brown, originally posted June 1, 2011, © National Association for Music Education (