The Technology Curve

For today’s students from kindergarten through graduate school, technology is a way of life. This is a generation that has never heard an LP, let alone a 45. On a multiple choice quiz, these young people would be more likely to choose the answer “pistol” than “music recording” if asked the definition of the latter. A recent article referred to the student-teacher technology gap as the difference between technology immigrants and technology natives. Guess which is which?

The health care ramifications may not be immediately obvious, but a “technology native” is much more likely to be willing to use technology to save a life–for example, to deploy an AED–than would be a “technology immigrant” to perform the same action. Studies show that bystanders witnessing a cardiac arrest respond between 17-33% of the time – even though many have had CPR training in the past. Could these dismal response rates be associated with a lack of familiarity of the life-saving benefits of AED units?

Interestingly, next year for the first time the United States Air Force will buy more unmanned planes than manned. Some of these drones are already in use, guided by the video game generation from a base near Las Vegas, to attack and patrol in Iraq with the precision of a laser surgeon. What can be done to tap into this comfort level with technology to increase the numbers of citizens willing to perform life saving CPR and to activate AED devices if warranted? One answer is to begin where all social change is best begun: in the public schools.

Health education is already required in many states. It would be a simple matter to add CPR and First Aid training as part of this curriculum. The generation taking such courses already comprises a substantial portion of the victim demographic. Who better to equip with life saving skills than the very people likely to witness an emergency event?

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