Physical Plant Management crew to learn CPR

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CSUN Physical Plant Management administrators will initiate a plan to certify all of their employees in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR.

“Right now, about half of our employees are certified,” said Ben Elisondo, Jr., manager of operations and safety training for PPM. “We have a goal of 100 percent.”

The goal should be reached within six months, he said.

Due to expenses and difficulties in scheduling, however, an agreement was made between Elisondo and administrators that he would receive CPR training and be certified as a CPR instructor with the American Red Cross. After being CPR certified, Elisondo began to offer training to PPM employees.

“A couple of years back, we were hiring an outside CPR instructor,” Elisondo said.

Tom Brown, director of PPM, said the plan to train every PPM employee became an actual goal about six months ago.

“It is a rather overwhelming goal to certify all of our employees,” he said.

Previously, PPM focused only on certifying electrical workers in accordance with California Occupational Safety and Health Association guidelines.

Elisondo said that while the goal is high, the stakes are also high.

“It is a valuable goal to have these life-saving skills,” he said. “With our staff working all over the campus, all hours of the day, the probability is that we will have to use them at some point. In no way does it replace what (calling 9-1-1) has to offer, but we can be on hand if necessary.”

While PPM administrators said CPR training is in no way intended to replace the activation of the 9-1-1 system in case of an emergency, training PPM workers will create a greater likelihood that someone with basic first aid and CPR skills will be on hand if someone needs help.

“We’re only there for support” until emergency personnel such as paramedics and police officers arrive, Brown said.

Elisondo said the staff’s training includes instruction to use Automated External Defibrillators. These devices were designed to detect fibrillation of the heart, a condition that commonly precedes death. A fibrillating heart does not pump any blood to the body, but the deadly rhythm can be reversed if a defibrillating device is on hand and used within a few minutes. Defibrillation provides electrical currents that can restart the heart, and AEDs are made specifically with civilian use in mind.

“We have 11 AEDs strategically placed throughout campus,” Elisondo said.

The CSUN Police Department controls the majority of the AEDs supply, but some AEDs are also found in other parts of campus, such as the campus swimming pools, the Klotz Student Health Center and the PPM building, Elisondo said.

Elisondo said his students also learn how to deal with life-threatening emergencies such as choking, and learn techniques such as rescue breathing and triage. He also teaches his students to deal with mental health issues, such as self-confidence, panic and fear in the face of an emergency situation. He said that in light of events, such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, it is important for people to learn these skills.

Elisondo’s classes are not limited to PPM staff. In his class of 12 students, there are people from the College of Science and Mathematics and the College of Education.

One of his students, Margaret “Peggy” Steiner, a PPM project coordinator, was positive about her experience at the CPR training session.

“It’s really very good,” she said. “It moves along step by step, which makes it more meaningful.”

Steiner said practicing her skills on mannequins provided for the course has helped her understanding of the training.

“The thing that’s interesting is how many people from other areas on campus are involved with this. It’s not just PPM,” she said.

Elisondo said he also certified the staff of the Kinesiology Department’s Brown Center for Adaptive Aquatic Therapy, the university’s resident advisers who work in the University Park Apartments and the teaching credential students.

CSUN is the only CSU to be carrying out this type of plan, as far as Elisondo knows.

“I believe in the cause,” he said. “I am passionate about helping (the) campus community and my department provide a safe place to work, study and learn.”

Bethania Palma can be reached at bethania.palma.45@csun.edu.