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Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 8:03 pm | Fair with Haze 56º

 
 
 
 

Letter to the Editor: Empowering High-Schoolers to Save Lives

Sometimes, we expect too little from the youth in our community. Amidst the schoolwork, hanging out with friends, listening to music and going to football games, it can seem like they’re busy, distracted or just otherwise disengaged. But the truth is the next generation is capable of so much more, and we should expect it. Our lives may depend on it.

Shawn Sanchez would agree with me. It was not by superhuman effort or miraculous fortune that Sanchez was able to save the life of his 9-month-old daughter, but by simple preparedness. One day he decided to take a CPR course not knowing he would ever need it. Then something happened.

Sanchez said his wife was preparing to take their daughter to the doctor while he was getting ready for work, and Kinley, fighting bronchitis, seemed to be struggling for breath. He recalled quickly deciding they would go to the emergency room, and before the family was in the car, Kinley took an alarming turn for the worse — she stopped breathing

“I ran over, just put her on the ground and started doing CPR, and I gave my wife my phone to call 9-1-1 while I was doing CPR,” Sanchez said.

He guessed it was something like three minutes before his daughter revived with a whimper, and they raced to the closest emergency department they could think of, which gave the child oxygen until an ambulance arrived.

Today, Sanchez hopes more parents and even his daughter — when she gets older — take the same feasible precautions and sign up for a CPR class.

Our lawmakers have a bill before them that could create a generation of lifesavers in Assembly Bill 319 (Rodriguez) by requiring hands-on CPR training before high school graduation.

The American Red Cross along with the American Heart Association sponsors this bill. We believe it is time our community became CPR Smart and built CPR training into the high school curriculum. If we equip more high-schoolers with the lifesaving power of CPR, we will hear more stories like Shawn’s, and not the tragic stories of those who died of cardiac arrest because CPR was administered too late.

Are there enough lifesavers in our community to make sure CPR is delivered in time? Today, I’m afraid the answer is no. But if we trained every high school student in CPR, we’d be adding thousands of lifesavers to the community.

So what do you believe high schoolers are capable of? Good grades? A winning game? A fun band concert or theater production? We believe they are capable of saving a life. Already, high-schoolers have saved hundreds of lives around the country, and I think they could save thousands more if only given the training.

The solution is in our hands, by asking the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to bring CPR training to our high schools. The hands that may or may not save your life belong to the students in a high school near you.

Jessica Piffero
American Red Cross-Central California Region

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