IGNACIO – More than 100 students learned how to save a life using CPR last week at Ignacio High School, gaining a job skill while they were at it.
Students sat on their knees in the high school gym, pumping the fake hearts of infant- to adult-sized dummies, while volunteers from Heart Safe La Plata, Los Pinos Fire Protection District and local law enforcement offered lifesaving tips and strategies. Teachers organized the event to connect students to job and life skills they can use.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a few years in my program,” said Molly Turner, career and technical education teacher. “We felt it was a valuable life skill and helps them with career exploration.”
Wood manufacturing students completed the four-hour program alongside others from family and consumer science courses. They learned how to use an automated external defibrillator in addition to CPR techniques for infants, children and adults. If they pass a written test after the training, they will be CPR-certified for two years.
“I’ve always wanted to do CPR,” said Cyrus Naranjo, a 10th grade student. “Plus, I’m thinking about getting a summer job after the school year.”
Volunteers taught them skills like asking for consent before performing CPR, the importance of calling 911 immediately and protecting personal health with gloves and masks during CPR.
“Hopefully, you never have to use it, but the more people who know it, the more lives are saved,” Turner said.
CPR can double or triple a person’s chances of survival if their heart stops beating, like after cardiac arrest, according to the American Heart Association.
Each year, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals. About 90% of those people die. However, if a bystander performs CPR until emergency responders arrive, about half of the patients survive their cardiac arrest, according to AHA.
“We’re trying to expose students to lots of different career opportunities, and it is a certificate to help them build their resumés,” Turner said.
The training program, which normally costs $65, was free for students. Heart Safe La Plata reduced its rates to $10 per student, and high school staff pursued grant or school funding to cover the rest of the cost.
One student wasn’t excited about the training because he had to miss his fitness conditioning class. But all three students interviewed by The Durango Herald said CPR was good to know in case of an emergency.
“Instead of having to wait for the police to do their thing, you have people that are able to be there and be able to do CPR,” said Robin Martinez, an 11th grade student.
Naranjo learned that without proper CPR training, a well-meaning person might accidentally hurt a patient.
“With this (training), they can do CPR correct, and if a scenario comes up, they’ll be able to use the skills that they learned from this training in real life,” he said.