Groups partner to spread hands-only CPR training

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Beaverton Health Careers mentor Mark Iguidbashian, center, teaches Ashlynn Christensen proper hands-free CPR technique during a Whitford Middle School assembly. For early adolescents, “Saturday Night Fever” may not be the most obvious cultural touchstone, but as a slew of eighth-graders learned last week, pumping your fists in time to “Stayin’ Alive” can provide positive benefits true to the iconic 1970s song’s title.

As the bass drum from the enduringly popular Bee Gees’ hit thumped out its steady 100 beats per minute from a sound system, Whitford Middle School eighth-graders gathered in small groups took turns thrusting down 2 inches on the chests of mannequins to practice hands-only cardio pulmonary resuscitation. The life-saving training comes courtesy of a partnership between Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and the Beaverton Health Careers Program. TVF&R brought along the portable, upper-torso mannequins, instructional videos and plenty of expertise to share with the receptive and eager TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Kordell Fink practices hands-free CPR technique to the tune of 'Stayin' Alive.'

After completing the training session, Carla Martinez, 14, said she would feel confident intervening in an emergency situation when someone is lying on the ground unconscious.

“It can happen at any moment,” she said. “It really helps to know you can save a life. I think I would definitely volunteer.”

The goal of the training sessions is to get 200 eighth-graders up to speed and ask them to train at least five of their family members and friends, said Amber Cross, a TVF&R captain.

“In the end we would have 1,000,” she said. “A lot of them will teach more than five people, so it has an exponential effect. We teach a few, they teach a few, and it keeps sprouting.”

Whitford is the first school in the Beaverton School District to sign up for the training session, which focuses on hands-only CPR. The mouth-to-mouth free method is now considered the best — and most appealing — form of emergency resuscitation.

“We’re trained professionally to do mouth to mouth, but it isn’t necessary,” Cross said. “The key is to keep the blood flowing in the first few minutes. What’s been found through medical advances is it’s really the blood flow to the organs that increases a patient’s chances of survival and (return to) full function in the event of cardiac arrest.”

Martinez said she is much more comfortable with training that doesn’t involve mouth-to-mouth contact.

“It would definitely be awkward if it was a 50-year-old man or something,” she said.

Paula Jacobs of the Beaverton Health Careers Program, which provides community-based health-related training and classes, explained that eighth-graders are the right age and size to provide effective CPR treatment.

“They want to be able to help, and they need the strength to make the 2-inch depth of the compressions,” she said, noting approximately 70 percent of the community lacks proper CPR skills. “The more people we get out there, who know what to do and how to react, the more chances someone has for survival.”

The beat-heavy music serves to make the training fun, while serving as an effective time-keeping mechanism.

“We use ‘Stayin’ Alive’ in my classes,” Jacobs said. “The music sort of gets everybody moving and helps them remember the beat. We try to focus on the (theme of) ‘stayin’ alive.’”

Whitford eighth-grader Carmen Shifflett, 14, said she looked forward to sharing her new training with family members.

“It will definitely help if our family members or peers know what to do,” she said. “Getting this out there will save a lot of people’s lives.”

And it helped to have a memorable song in her head to keep a steady rhythm — even if it was recorded by a falsetto-heavy disco-era group a good 22 years before she was born.

“I like the song,” she said. “It’s good for remembering the beat and when and where to push. It’s very catchy. Definitely when I’m in a position to do CPR, I’ll remember how it goes.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - TVF&R EMT Ben Sims teaches Whitford Middle School students proper hands-free CPR technique during an assembly last week.

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