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TVF&R

Posted on: February 21, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Students invade Washington Square to teach hands-only CPR

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Tigard Times/Beaverton Valley Times

by Geoff Pursinger

February 20, 2014

Full article: When a group of teenagers descended on Washington Square mall on Saturday, they weren’t your typical gang of shoppers and mallrats.

They were there to help save lives.

Students from Beaverton’s Valley Catholic Middle School spent the afternoon teaching hundreds of Washington Square shoppers about the benefits of hands-only CPR.

It’s become a tradition at the private school to teach students how to perform the life-saving maneuver. In turn, they each are required to teach five other people the skill. But this year’s class wanted to enhance the challenge by reaching out to even more community members.

A dozen eighth-graders, six high school students and about a dozen firefighters led a training session in the mall.

“Since February is ‘Heart Month,’ what greater place than at the mall to teach people about CPR?” said Herb Lommen, a Valley Catholic teacher and chairman of the school’s health and physical education department.

Stationed just outside the mall’s food court, the students used practice dummies to demonstrate proper technique to passersby.

“We had whole families stop by, with the mom, dad and four or five kids. The whole family learned,” said Alisa Cour, a fire district spokeswoman. “It was really neat.”

In just three hours, students were able to teach 879 people how to properly perform hands-only CPR, said eighth-grader An Luu.

“It was really fun teaching other people,” the 14-year-old said. “You get to know them while you teach them.”

Luu wants as many people as possible to learn CPR.

“Nowadays, there are more people with heart conditions,” Luu said. “If there are many of us who know how to do it, then when a situation that is life threatening comes up, we are able to help them.”

Survival rate drops with each minute

TVF&R has been teaching students at Valley Catholic the importance of hands-only CPR for years. This year the fire district expanded the program to Fowler Middle School in Tigard. Officials hope more middle schools take up the call to learn the skill.

Cour said the students made excellent instructors.

“They were so engaged,” she said. “Their goal was to teach 600 people, so they exceeded their expectations.”

The mall sees about 15,000 visitors on an average Saturday, Cour said, making it both the perfect place to spread the word about CPR and a spot where heart attacks and other incidents are likely to happen.

“It gives you the idea that, at any time, someone young or old could go into cardiac arrest, and now there are more people who would know what to do,” she said.

Students also had the opportunity to spend time with Helen Windberg, 80, who went into cardiac arrest at the mall on April 4, 2013. Mall security was able to save her life by using CPR until paramedics arrived.

“It gave some context and inspiration for why they were there and how it had made a difference for her and for others, too,” Cour said.

The odds of living during a cardiac arrest incident drop by 10 percent every minute, Lommen said, so the sooner someone can start CPR, the better.

Add more next year

The training has already paid off. Lommen said he knows of two incidents where someone trained by Valley Catholic students was able to step in and perform CPR.

“It makes it all worthwhile,” he said. “Those people wouldn’t be here today without us.”

Cour said participants had a few questions the students weren’t prepared for.

“A lot of them wanted to know about infant CPR, or the Heimlich maneuver,” Cour said. “It led to a lot more questions than we had anticipated.”

Firefighters and students answered questions about defibrillators and first aid and CPR certification.

Lommen said he is already planning on next year’s event.

“I want to see if we can add more to it next year,” he said.

Lommen and the students are testifying before the state Legislature later this month to try and make CPR-training mandatory for all Oregon students to complete before graduation.

Luu said learning CPR is one of the most important things a person can do. “I think everyone should know this so they are more prepared. When the time comes, they can be ready, know what to do and take action.”

For more information about hands-only CPR, visit tvfr.com.

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