TVF&R officials and Valley Catholic students testify at public hearing for senate bill

Oregon's Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee is holding a public hearing this afternoon on a bill that would require CPR training for all high school students.

During the 1 p.m. hearing for Senate Bill 275, state legislators will hear from medical professionals and emergency medical services officials from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

Cardiac arrest survivor Raoul Meekcoms and his wife Sandy, who performed hands-only CPR before TVF&R paramedics arrived to provide advanced life support care, will also share their story with state leaders in the effort to help shape policy that will impact future generations.

Prior to the hearing, Major League Baseball umpire and Beaverton resident James Joyce will also share his story of saving the life of a woman before a game last summer. He learned CPR when he was in high school and supports SB 275.

Students from Beaverton's Valley Catholic School will also be at the state capitol Thursday to help train those in attendance in the life-saving skill.

In November 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 to the community. Since that time, 150 eighth-graders have taught hands-only CPR to more than 2,100 community members.

One of those who learned from the Valley Catholic students this past Saturday was Angela Winemeuller of Vancouver, Wash. One day after learning hands-only CPR at a speech and debate tournament at the Beaverton school, Winemeuller rendered aid to a cardiac patient in her hometown on Sunday.

"Sudden cardiac arrest can strike anyone, anywhere, and when it does, a patient's survival depends on the people around them," said Karen Eubanks, TVF&R spokeswoman. "When provided quickly, CPR doubles the chance of survival for a cardiac patient."

Annually, more than 300,000 people experience cardiac arrest. Many die before ever reaching a hospital due to not receiving timely CPR, she said.

Fire Chief Mike Duyck agreed and added, "In TVF&R's service area, cardiac survival rates exceed the national average, ranging between 11 percent and 23 percent for the past several years. I attribute this, not only to our department's investment in paramedics and advanced cardiac drugs and equipment on every unit, but our community's demonstrated willingness to perform hands-only CPR during a cardiac event."

The fire district as well as the American Heart Association believe schools are an ideal place to start training all Oregonians on how to save a life, as they serve as a gateway to an entire generation who will be able to respond when someone near them experiences sudden cardiac arrest.

"Passing SB 275 will bring more than 45,000 trained lifesavers to our community every year," Duyck said.

Stephanie Tama-Sweet, government relations director for the American Heart Association in Oregon, echoed that message.

"Teaching students CPR develops real-world skills and responsibility, and it takes less than 30 minutes to learn," she said. "That's less time than it takes to watch a TV sitcom."

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