How a Brown County Kansas School Safety Initiative Made Its Entire Community Safer

Brown County’s Teen Heartsaver Initiative has provided First Aid training and certification to nearly 2,000 high school students, campus employees, and area residents.

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At Campus Safety we love to talk about programs, technologies, and strategies that can address a multitude of safety and security concerns at schools, institutions of higher education, and healthcare facilities.

Campus Safety Voices, available on Spotify and Apple streaming platforms, features timely conversations on a wide range of topics affecting K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, and healthcare facilities.

For example, good access control can help to prevent or at least mitigate thefts, intrusions, vandalism, and even active assailant attacks on campus. Security cameras act as a force multiplier to campus security and law enforcement personnel, as well as provide valuable evidence during investigations.

Brown County Kansas’ Teen Heartsaver Initiative is another program that has a wide variety of applications, not only at schools, but also in the community at large. The initiative has trained and certified nearly 2,000 high school students, teachers, staff members, and area residents on the American Heart Association’s First Aid, CPR, and AED Heartsaver program.

The program was introduced by Brown County Kansas Sheriff John Merchant and is one of the reasons why he’s one of this year’s Campus Safety Director of the Year finalists.

To launch the program, Merchant met with both school districts in the county, as well as the superintendents, and they whole-heartedly got behind the initiative because the skills learned by participants could address a wide range of medical emergencies on campus and off. Although active shooter incidents were a significant concern, they realized that students, teachers, administrators, and the general public are much more likely to experience cardiac arrest, choking on food, allergic reactions, work accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, and more. The Heartsaver program could help address all of these types of medical emergencies, as well as many of the injuries that might be sustained in a school shooting.

Car accidents involving teenagers were also a big concern for Merchant.

“Teen drivers are one of the most at-risk for accidents,” he says. “If they have an accident, they can render aid to each other. We’re also a rural farming community… and there are times when the parents or grandparents have had agricultural accidents, and the kids render aid, stop the bleeding, whatever the case may be.”

The Teen Heartsaver Initiative has saved many lives.

One student who received the training performed the Heimlich maneuver on a choking child she was babysitting. A bus driver who was waiting in line at McDonald’s revived a person who went into cardiac arrest. Another student who was sitting at a restaurant revived a patron who experienced a heart attack. Brown County’s program has many more success stories… too many to mention.

Below are the questions and interview time stamps so you can watch/listen to the specific details of Brown County’s initiative:

  1. What exactly is the Teen Lifesaver Initiative? 1:49
  2. Why did you think your school district and community needed it? Did anything prompt you to introduce this initiative? 3:00
  3. What have been the results of your Teen Lifesaver Initiative so far? 5:40
  4. How did you go about implementing this initiative? Any advice to other districts or law enforcement agencies wanting to adopt something similar? What works? What doesn’t? 6:59

Watch the full interview here or listen on the go on Apple or Spotify.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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