Check, call, care: South Rowan staff brushes up on CPR training

Published 12:10 am Thursday, February 2, 2023

When people learn an emergency care procedure, the hope is that they will never have to use it. However, having that skill in the toolkit could be the difference between life and death.

South Rowan High School staff spent Tuesday afternoon in the media center during a CPR recertification course administered by Rowan-Salisbury Schools nurses Heidi Shell and Heather Basinger.

“We typically do training for coaches and teachers throughout the school year,” Shell said. “The administration at South Rowan reached out and wanted to increase the number of staff he has CPR certified, so we are offering classes before and after school to get as many people certified as we can here.”

The school district’s nurses are certified CPR trainers through the Red Cross, and certification can be obtained in one session.

For South Rowan High assistant principal Jonathan Farmer, the training came in handy earlier this month when his mother experienced a medical emergency.

Farmer was at church in North Kannapolis and received a call from his father to come to their house in Landis as soon as possible.

“She had just had back surgery, so that is what I went for,” Farmer said. “When I got there, she was unresponsive due to a blood clot. I tilted her head back and looked for a pulse.”

Farmer got to his mother shortly before first responders and started administering the aid that he had recently been shown during a CPR certification course.

“Firemen came in, and they took over,” Farmer said. “As they were doing everything, my adrenaline was rushing, but I felt like I knew what to do because of this training.”

In the following days, numerous people throughout the school system reached out to Farmer.

“I told the superintendent that this training should be an onboarding requirement for all new employees,” Farmer said. “We have kids in our building with health issues that could benefit from this care.”

About a week later, South Rowan High had a student who required an AED.

“They ended up having to be transported,” Farmer said. “There are times when you might need it. You may not remember every single thing, but you can always call 911, and they can walk you through each step, but it helps to know and practice.

“My goal is to get 100% of our staff certified.”

Kelly Hopkins teaches history at South Rowan. She was among the faces in the media center on Tuesday.

“I was CPR certified when I was a teenager and have never recertified as an adult,” Hopkins said. “I think in the last couple of months, watching the kids in this building and other places, the NFL, have emergencies, it would be good to know. I am hoping to brush up.”

Hopkins has never had to perform CPR and hopes she never will, but she has had students suffer from seizures. She is optimistic that the training will lend itself to cool-headedness in alarming situations.

Hopkins’ fellow educator, Madison White, expressed a desire to possess the skills necessary to keep her students safe.

“I have multiple students that have, whether it is a heart condition, allergies, or they just like to eat candy in class, I just want to be prepared to serve my students if I need to,” White said.

To have the information readily available and accessible training seemed like a waste to not take advantage of it.

The English language arts teacher experienced a “scary medical emergency” in college involving a friend.

“We ended up having to call 911,” White said. “Luckily, my now husband was skilled in different things. He had experience in emergencies. He knew what to do. I just called 911.”

White indicated that the situation initially intimidated her, but something happened.

“It’s almost like a light switch went off,” White said. “There was a sense of calamity and we need to do what is best for this person.”

Being able to respond accordingly prompted White to recertify on Tuesday.

“I hope to have that armor as an additional skill that I pack every day for my kids,” White said.

While many people likely remember the tune to the Bee Gees’ ‘Staying Alive,’ as the rhythm for performing CPR, the nurses at the training explained that they use a new song called ‘Baby Shark,’ a song popularized by YouTube.

The knowledge to react in a medical emergency doesn’t just benefit the students, as evidenced by the assistant principal’s experience with his mother.

“We teach the staff because, as a school system employee, we think they will use it on students,” Shell said. “However, most of the time, it’s one of your loved ones, someone in your family, or an adult on campus who will receive the care. It’s a skill that not only you need for your job, but also for outside of the job.”

The three basics to remember for CPR involve checking your surroundings, calling for help and caring for the subject.

For complete information or to sign up for a CPR certification course, go to