Sudden Cardiac Arrest is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths. It can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime.

This fall, more than 1,300 eighth-graders in our middle schools completed hands-only CPR and automated external defibrillator training from the Salem Fire Department, with the help of the Salem Fire Foundation.

The Salem Fire Department began training our eighth-graders in CPR almost four-years ago. EMT Willy Gittings says that initially the lessons started with watching a DVD, but this bored students.

When trainers switched to jumping right in with hands-on training instead of having kids sit through a video, they were amazed at how engaged the middle school students became.

The Salem Fire Foundation works with the Salem Fire Department by covering the cost of firefighters’ time, training materials and equipment. Its goal is to reach 3,500 students each year and to have the students go on to train their parents and families at home.

The Salem Fire Foundation needs about $50,000 a year to make this happen. Those wishing to help with this important work can contribute by visiting the Foundation’s website at

Along with learning skills that save lives, an added benefit of this program is students often ask firefighters after the CPR training finishes about careers in EMT and firefighting. Having career goals helps students be successful in school.

Thank you Salem Fire Department and Foundation for all the work you do to train our students in CPR, and congratulations on being recognized as Community Partners of the Month for November 2018!