YMCA commends staff for use of CPR in emergency; highlights need for training

YMCA of Greater Brandywine staff perform life-saving CPR drills at the organization’s annual Lifeguard Competition.

Last month, a group of friends was traveling on U.S. Route 322 when they noticed a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. The friends were surprised to see a woman performing CPR on an infant – and were even more surprised to see that no other cars had stopped to help.

Although they were stuck in traffic and eager to get to their destination, Heather Giacometti, Lisa Maley, Noelle Topmiller and Alison Verbanas did not think twice about stopping to help. Years ago, the group of friends met at the Jennersville YMCA where they worked and were trained in CPR, AED and First Aid.

Upon noticing the child in distress, the friends immediately pulled over and put their training into action. Verbanas took over phone duty from the child’s mother, keeping in contact with emergency responders. Topmiller helped the mother assess the child’s condition, while Maley and Giacometti continued to survey the scene, provide support and help all remain calm and focused.

Once Topmiller was able to determine that the child was breathing, she instructed the mother to discontinue CPR and Verbanas stayed in touch with paramedics until they arrived on the scene.

Giacometti and Topmiller currently work at the Jennersville YMCA in West Grove. Maley and Verbanas are former employees. Previously, all four worked on the Aquatics team – a team that receives top-notch training.

“At the Y, we require professional-level training in CPR, AED and First Aid,” explains Andy Hockenbrock, Executive Director of the Jennersville YMCA. “This training is required to ensure the health of safety of our members inside of the Y – but it also makes a difference outside our doors.”

YMCA of Greater Brandywine President & CEO, Bertram L. Lawson II, has also applied his YMCA training while in the community.

“Years ago, I was attending a public event when shots rang out,” comments Lawson. “The scene was chaotic, as you can imagine. Without thinking, I surveyed the scene and began to direct the crowd. After the incident was handled, people wanted to know where I learned how to stay calm and lead through an emergency. I was proud to say, ‘I learned that at the YMCA.’”

Basic CPR training is important for all to have. That’s why the YMCA is offering a certification class at the Jennersville YMCA on October 19 from 5:00 – 8:00 PM. The course covers the basics of CPR, AED and First Aid. Registration is open to the public with pricing set at $45 for members and $65 for guests.

“Prior to the pandemic, we regularly offered training sessions for the community,” Hockenbrock explains. “We’re excited to bring back our community sessions so that all have a chance to learn life-saving skills. You never know when an emergency will hit you.”

If you can’t attend the training session on October 19, there are additional options. The Jennersville Y plans to host a monthly training session for the community going forward. Upcoming sessions will be held on November 16 and December 14.

Above all, Topmiller and her friends want this story to serve as a reminder to help one another.

“I’m happy to report that the child is stable and healthy,” comments Topmiller. “But we didn’t do much to help the child other than pulling over and stopping our car. The mother was doing great on her own. All she needed was a little support, an extra set of helping hands and to not feel so alone.”

“How often do you slow down enough to notice when someone needs help?” asks Topmiller. “In an emergency, everyone has a role. Slow down, stop and help when someone needs helps.”

To learn more about community CPR/AED/First Aid training, contact John Holets at jholets@ymcagbw.org.

To view career opportunities at the YMCA: https://ymcagbw.org/about/careers

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