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On Thursday, Feb. 28 Chicago became one of only four Jewish communities around the world to graduate a class of Hugo’s Heroes–student first responders. Twenty ICJA students participated in training sessions on critical life saving skills. The world-wide initiative is a First-Aid/CPR training program for select ninth-twelth grade students to implement an Internal Emergency Action Plan at school. Initiated by Hatzolah in South Africa, the student-led program empowers students to respond to any of the school’s internal emergencies until the arrival of Hatzalah Chicago. In addition, the students are able to volunteer as a standby first aid service for school gatherings, including athletic program activities. In addition, the students become the eyes and ears of safety in and around the school for any unnoticed potential safety issues so that they can be proactive in assisting our schools to prevent injuries from occurring. Early fibrillation and CPR can double and triple the chance of survival after cardiac arrest.

“The students have been taught and certified through the AHA’s national curriculum for how to act in an emergency,” says Hatzalah Chicago’s CPR Coordinator Karli Salinger (class of ’05). “Emergencies ranging from choking, allergic reaction, and cardiac arrest all have associated life-saving skills of which the average high school student is more than capable of performing. We applaud their eagerness to start their journey on how to help their fellow student or teacher.”

Training covers:

  • CPR and choking emergencies
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Environmental emergencies
  • Uncontrolled bleeding emergencies
  • Bandaging and splinting
  • Allergic reactions
  • Diabetic related emergencies
  • Burns
  • Head injuries
  • Chest injuries
  • Triage

ICJA is only the fourth school to host the initiative, in addition to South Africa, Australia and Miami. The hope is that the program will continue to expand.

The program is in addition to the senior EMT course with Hatzalah Chicago taught at ICJA for science credit.

ICJA teacher Chavee Gottlieb has been instrumental in coordinating the program at ICJA, and alum Karli Salinger (’05) taught the course. Leslie Stein-Spencer, acting chief of EMS at Illinois Department of Public Health, congratulated and encouraged the students, saying, “There is nothing greater than saving a life. What an accomplishment that you’re taking the lead in the nation.”

The students were outfitted with sweatshirts that made even the South Africans jealous, according to Tzvi Montrose, Hatzalah CEO. Leaders in the program there personally congratulated ICJA’s students in a video available on our Facebook page.

Prior to the program, Dr. Andrew Dennis, surgeon in Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, lectured students in our EMT training course on trauma and shock (pictured below). The EMT course is made possible thanks to a grant from the George Shay z”l Endowment Fund, an endowment gift to an ICJA academic department from alum Scott Shay (’75).

EMT course
ICJA seniors who are training to become certified EMTs

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