COOLIDGE — All students enrolled at Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology will receive lifesaving CPR certification training as part of CAVIT’s 2021-22 curriculum.

Last Friday, Wash Gibbs, a basic life support instructor with the American Heart Association, Honor Health Training Center, led a course certifying all CAVIT teachers as BLS instructors and preparing them to train CAVIT students in CPR.

CPR — cardiopulmonary resuscitation — keeps blood pumping to the heart and brain in an emergency. When properly administered, CPR can double or triple the chances of survival after a cardiac arrest. CPR certification in schools is part of a nationwide movement to train more people in this life-saving technique.

Several of the local Pinal County high schools, from which CAVIT students come, now have CPR certification as part of their graduation requirements. While many students may need to enroll in an additional class or pay for a certification course, CAVIT is providing this training to all its students, regardless of the program in which they are enrolled.

Kansas Olson, CAVIT’s career and technical education coordinator, will be working with the teachers to make sure all of CAVIT’s students receive their CPR certification during the school year. “CPR certification is very important,” Olson said. “They say that one out of every 40 adults is CPR certified, and typically most emergencies happen at home. For all kids to have it means more people in the general population are able to respond in emergency situations.”

Wendy Puffer, one of CAVIT’s medical assistant II teachers, said that she is excited CAVIT was giving students the opportunity to learn CPR, and that it is something all students should learn.

Both Puffer and Olson pointed out that emergencies can arise at any time and in any work environment, which is why all CAVIT students will be receiving the certification, not just those enrolled in medical-based programs. Olson added that having CPR certification on their resumes will help CAVIT graduates stand out as they seek jobs in the career pathways they are following at CAVIT.

The certification is good for two years, and CAVIT teachers are grateful for the refresher course as techniques and best practices can change from year to year. Puffer said she used to work in an emergency room and has had to use CPR in that setting, but she is glad to learn a new technique for performing CPR on babies using the thumbs rather than just the fingers. “Personally, I’m super excited that CAVIT gave us this opportunity,” Puffer said. “I have a new one-month-old grandbaby, and I will personally be training my son and my daughter-in-law in CPR.” She added that Gibbs is an excellent trainer who provided insight and real-life anecdotes.

Teachers at the training learned new techniques for rescue breaths, including how to give breaths using a barrier. Gibbs was able to critique and correct methods, and he even brought along a mannequin that registered with a green light when chest compressions were being done correctly. “The training was excellent,” Olson said. “I think we’re ready to be able to deliver certifications to all students. That’s our goal. It’s a big endeavor, but I think after our training, we’re ready for that.”


Mike Glover is superintendent of CAVIT.


Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at