Valley Catholic and Beaverton Health and Science students pass skill on to five others

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - From left, Eli Serrao, Ameer Safadi and Dylan Farrell practice CPR on a test dummy during a Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue visit to the Beaverton Health and Science School.Students at two Beaverton schools got a unique chance to learn how to save someone’s life — and pass that valuable knowledge on — as the rest of the city prepared to celebrate Thanksgiving.

On Nov. 20 and 26, respectively, Valley Catholic School and Beaverton Health and Science School students not only practiced hands-only CPR but were given the tools to pass the technique on to five other people.

When all was said and done, an estimated 165 middle and high school students from Beaverton Health and Science School and 79 students from Valley Catholic School were trained in the action that can save someone suffering from cardiac arrest.

Many of the Beaverton Health and Science students got an added bonus of learning what it takes to become a firefighter thanks to a visit from firefighters from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue’s Station 64.

As part of that education, firefighter Todd Rayburn, a peer fitness trainer for TVF&R took students through a 30-minute workout, running them through a regimen designed to mimic the type of physical exertion firefighters go through daily.

“The firefighters set up stations and led the kids through a warm up, bear crawl, wall sits, planks and burpees,” said Alisa Cour, a public affairs officer with TVF&R. “Both the firefighters and kids seemed to enjoy the joint workout.”

That was followed by a discussion from firefighters where students were able to ask questions about the occupation — ranging from what it was like living in a firehouse to the driving skills necessary to maneuver a fire engine, according to Steve Day, principal of Beaverton Health and Science School.

Also, a career panel comprising of firefighters, medical personnel and those from the preventive side of health care, all participated in a discussion of the medical field in general in a school where half of the student body is interested in health care-related jobs, said Day.

TVF&R officials estimate that during an average day, 80 percent of emergency calls involve providing medical care.

What Day would ultimately like to see at his school is an emergency medical technician training class, available not only to students but their parents as well.

“It’s a great family-wage job being an EMT or ambulance driver,” Day pointed out.

Meanwhile, the main event featured students actually practicing chest compressions on inflatable “mini mannequins” as part of hands-only CPR, a method designed to sustain someone who has suffered cardiac arrest until medical help arrives.

Not to be outdone, 79 students at Valley Catholic School participated in hands-only CPR training earlier in the month. The school is a leader when it comes to promoting and teaching the technique, and in 2011, TVF&R and Valley Catholic Middle School implemented the first partnership in Oregon between a fire department and school to teach hands-only CPR. Students from the school also were on site in Salem in February when Oregon legislators held a hearing for Senate Bill 275, a bill that would require CPR training for all high school students before they graduate.

Barbara Kerr, a Valley Catholic spokeswoman, said according to Herb Lommen, a physical education and health teacher at the school, 1,549 people were trained in hands-only CPR last year, bringing the number of those trained to 2,605 over a two-year period. During the Thanksgiving holiday, those who received the training were encouraged to train five others, adding another 520 people in the community who can perform the life-saving action.

The benefits of teaching the technique to Valley Catholic students has already proved beneficial, resulting in two people’s lives being saved, said Cour.

Cour said during the Valley Catholic training, firefighters from Station 67 were on hand to run students through a scenario involving a person going into cardiac arrest.

While a quick survey to determine how many students had the life-saving PulsePoint smart phone application on their cellphones showed that none did, Cour said that’s something TVF&R officials hope to soon change as knowledge of the app’s existence becomes more prevalent. Launched earlier this year by the fire district, the PulsePoint app alerts CPR-trained bystanders when someone within a quarter-mile radius is in need of aid.

Overall, TVF&R officials say CPR is an important skill considering that firefighter paramedics respond to more than 1,000 cardiac-related calls each year. The good news is that survival rates in the expansive district have ranged between 11 and 22 percent, a number that exceeds the national average.

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