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East Green dorms on May 18, 2021.

Student Senate sparks initiative for increased CPR and AED training

The Housing and Residence Life Commission of the Student Senate recently introduced a new bill to better protect students by increasing the number of Automatic External Defibrillators, or AED, in dormitories and the amount of CPR training Resident Advisors receive.

Housing and Residence Life Commissioner Mae Thomas said the initiative came from a conversation with another senate member who brought up concern over student safety in a life-or-death situation.

“If a student was experiencing a medical emergency, (RAs are) not allowed to touch the student,” she said. “They would have to call 911 and wait until assistance arrived.” 

Thomas said she became curious after this conversation and looked into how many AEDs are available on campus.

“I tried to search online, I couldn’t find anything,” she said. “What I realized, after having a few conversations with faculty and other students, is that the halls don’t have AEDs in them.” 

Thomas also said campus AEDs are not listed online in comparison to other competitor schools that do list the locations of their AEDs online for others to review. 

“I realized my initiative would be possible,” she said. “(Having AEDs) is a better call to action if an emergency were to occur.” 

Thomas said the first plan of action is to install six AEDs in every study area and laundry room in the east, west and south dorms. She said it would be a slow start to roll out AEDs in every dorm because it costs approximately $1,200 and requires upkeep. 

There are 77 AEDs on OU’s campus, but none are stationed in the dorms – except for the main entrance of Boyd Hall, which is the dining hall. 

In the event of an emergency, an AED is supposed to be a three-minute walking distance from any place. Thomas said her commission mapped out the time it would take from student dorms to an AED on campus, and it was longer than the suggested three minutes.

Housing and Residence Life declined an interview at this time but did issue a statement.

“Housing and Residence Life is aware of the resolution that was passed by Undergraduate Student Senate,” Samantha Pelham, university spokesperson, wrote in an email. “They look forward to learning more and providing input as part of the University’s shared governance process.” 

Joesph Wakeley, assistant director of the aquatic center, said the aquatic center offers classes for university departments and anyone interested in getting CPR and AED certified. 

He said the program has come a long way and transitioned into blended learning, making it more accessible. 

“For the general person, they can sign up for one of the classes that we have,” Wakeley said. “They’re sent a link to do the online portion, and then they come to an assigned class to do the in-person hands-on mannequin, chat and talk through the material with an instructor.” 

Certification for recreation programming is completed through the American Red Cross. While other entities offer certifications, Wakeley said not all jobs accept those certifications where both CPR and AED training are needed. 

He said he is not aware of any regulations for AEDs in public spaces, but for recreation jobs, his department is working on training their staff.

“We’re actually in the process of taking all of our staff through a bare minimum of adult CPR, first aid (and) AED training,” Wakeley said. “That’s a process that we’re trying to do in-house.” 

Wakeley said that although a few classes are open to the general public, there have been increased requests from groups wanting to set up private courses. He said if another department wanted to use this program to certify in AED and CPR training, they could set up an individualized class for their group.

Thomas said this initiative means increasing safety on campus and making everyone feel safe at OU, especially those with heart conditions. 

“For every minute that passes, the chances of survival go down by 7% to 10%,” she said. “This is really important that this is passed.” 

Thomas said her next step is organizing meetings on this new bill.

“I’m not sure what the timeline looks like, but it’ll be a relatively lengthy process,” she said. “But I’m ready for it.” 


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