Life support courses aim at niche market

Peijia Zhang, Editor-in-Chief

Starting from its head and ending in its lower shoulder – a segment of young and blonde short-haired male-featured-like mannequin laid on a table beside a defibrillator Jan. 12 in each of the four small classrooms in the Living/Learning Center.

It was the second day of a two-day Advanced Cardiac Life Support Course.

A total of 45 nursing and respiratory care college students from Cambria and Somerset counties were studying under health care practitioners to earn an American Heart Association certificate.

Roxanne Blough, program coordinator at the Cambria-Somerset Council for Continuing Medical Education, said students were mostly seniors from institutions including YTI Career Institute in Altoona, Saint Francis University and Pitt-Johnstown.

The council held the course at Pitt-Johnstown each year – along with a Pediatric Advanced Life Support course, according to Blough.

She said getting the certificate before students enter the workforce in the medical field makes them more marketable, as their employers would not have to pay for it.

Each student paid $125 for course materials, Blough said.

“They (students) will eventually have to take (the course) when working (had they not taken it before graduation).”

Eric Steinbring, a paramedic at Windber medical center, was one of the course’s instructors.

Steinbring said it was an abbreviated course for those who wish to become medical professionals and are already in practice.

“You can’t be a paramedic or a nurse in an emergency room (without this certificate).”

He also said that the certificate is effective for two years after students pass a written exam at the end of the course.

He said the mannequin and defibrillator were used to test students’ knowledge on how to react when a patient’s heart rate becomes irregular or when the heart stops.

Sophomore respiratory care student Amani Bey said CPR training is taught as part of a required course called Selected Topics in Respiratory Care.

Junior nursing student Helena Malyarsky said nursing students learn related topics in a class called Basic Life Support in fall semesters.