Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy’s entire student body, staff earn Red Cross CPR certification

Starting Hearts instructor Mike McGee taught the Vaii Ski and Snowboard Academy sessions in which the school became the nation's first for the entire student body and staff to earn American Red Cross CPR certification.
Starting Hearts | Special to the Daily

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For more information about Starting Hearts, contact Alan Himelfarb, executive director of Starting Hearts, at 970-763-5306 or by email at, or visit

MINTURN — The nation’s first public-school sports academy is also the first to certify its entire student body and staff with CPR and defibrillator training.

Starting Hearts and Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy cooperated in completing the Red Cross certification.

Three Starting Hearts instructors trained each grade through the entire school. The course was taught in two parts using the unique “blended learning” program from American Red Cross. It’s an hour and a half of online study, and another hour and a half of skills sessions in class.

Students who demonstrated command of the material and proper hands-on skills received a two-year certification from American Red Cross. Everyone did.

“It has been our goal to teach leadership and lifesaving skills to an entire generation,” Lynn Blake, founder of Starting Hearts, said. “This program with VSSA takes our community to an entirely new level with certifications for hundreds of students and adults, making our home all the more prepared to save precious lives. We are so excited to partner with VSSA in such an exciting and historic initiative.”

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VSSA Principal Wade Hill said he was excited to be the nation’s first school to certify its entire student body and staff.

“Partnering with Starting Hearts to bring these life-saving skills to our students was such an amazing learning experience,” Hill said.

Mike McGee, Starting Hearts lead instructor for this initiative, had high praise for VSSA students.

“The students are not only attentive and eager to learn but are also extremely capable of processing serious and life threatening emergencies,” McGee said. “Their ability to assess a situation, respond appropriately and remember the steps learned in training is impressive.”

About Starting Hearts

Starting Hearts’ mission is to save the lives of sudden cardiac arrest victims through free CPR and defibrillator education.

Since its inception in 2010, Starting Hearts has educated more than 18,000 citizens in lifesaving and leadership skills, as well as increased the number of defibrillators in Eagle County to more than 400, or one for every 130 residents, one of the highest per capita rates in the nation.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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