Hillsborough Middle School staff members and rescue squad earn national recognition

(Left to right): Hillsborough Middle School health teachers Melissa Pursell and Regina Kay along with Bill Greenhalgh of the Hillsborough Rescue Squad Training Center who were recognized by the American Heart Association on Sept. 25 at the Mercer Oaks Country Club in Princeton. Photo Courtesy of the American Heart Association

Members of Hillsborough Middle School’s staff and the Hillsborough Rescue Squad were recognized in October for their life-saving efforts.

Honored by the American Heart Association 26, individuals and organizations in New Jersey were acknowledged by the group for saving lives, including multiple Hillsborough Township patrons. The individuals recognized from Hillsborough were Regina Kay and Melissa Pursell from Hillsborough Middle School along with the Hillsborough Rescue Squad Training Center.

The recognition ceremony was held on Sept. 25 at the Mercer Oaks Country Club located at 725 Village Road West, Princeton.

The American Heart Association Heart and Stroke Heroes Awards is held annually to commend individuals, organizations and schools throughout the Garden State for taking “extraordinary steps” to strengthen the American Heart Association Chain of Survival or for rescue efforts that saved a life of someone experiencing a cardiac or stroke emergency.

Officials said Kay and Pursell who are AHA instructors have taught hands-only CPR training to 7th graders as part of their health classes in school. For the past two years, they have also added more extensive CPR/AED training after school.

To date, more than 250 middle school students have taken advantage of the afterschool program and have received their Heartsaver cards, officials said. The teachers had also secured funding from the middle school’s Home and School Association for additional mannequins and AED simulators to help serve more students.

This program is part of a coordinated partnership with the Hillsborough Rescue Squad Training Center that has provided Heartsaver CPR training to more than 600 students annually at Hillsborough High School as part of their junior year health class. The squad also provided mini-Annie mannequins to the middle school for the hands-only CPR training in 7th grade health.

Approximately 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, according to the AHA. Given immediately, CPR doubles or triples survival rates, AHA officials said.

The American Heartsaver Recognition Program is an initiative supporting the American Heart Association’s efforts to strengthen the Chain of Survival in communities as part of an aimed mission to be a “relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.”