By far, the biggest unsung heroes of Leesville are the first responders. First responders are not glorified or put on a pedestal, they are simply recognized by a red cross on the door.
According to Gary Duvall, the first responder coordinator at Leesville and administrator, the original idea of the first responder program was to have trained personnel in each hallway to quickly respond to emergency situations. The most significant advantage to having trained staff so close is the speed at which they can respond. “Having someone run across the school to respond to a time critical emergency is inefficient,” said Duvall.
Leesville is sectioned off into zones with three to four trained faculty members per zone. All administers, in addition to 18 teachers, participate in first aid training every year, and CPR training every other year.
First responders are prepared to provide assistance whatever the situation may be.
Fortunately barely any of the first responders have dealt with any serious calls.
Sr. Ross, Leesville teacher for nearly two decades, is one of many first responders at Leesville.
“I suppose I could be called at any moment, but it doesn’t cross my mind often,” said Ross.
Ross said, “It’s a great way to give back to the school. Its also a great thing to have, not only, to benefit the school, but in everyday life as well. If something happens to one of my kids I know exactly what to do.”
Ross feels that being equipped to save lives brings a sense of peace. “I’ve only been called once but it wasn’t a serious situation. It was resolved shortly after I arrived,” said Ross.
Susan Pridgen, sports medicine teacher, decided to become a first responder when she joined Leesville in 2001. “I’m glad that I’m a first responder because I enjoy helping people,” said Pridgen. In the course of this year Pridgen has been called twice; however, she has been called countless times in the past 10 years because of her role as sports trainer.
Pridgen and Ross both consider the first responder program helpful outside of school. “I feel like being a first responder helps me deal with any emergency situation not just those in school,” said Pridgen.
Duvall has a plethora of insight into the first responder program. “Its [the first responder program] been around since the school opened; there has always been a push for the idea of first responders. The name has evolved over the years but the idea of the program has stayed the same over the years.”