In effort to improve cardiac arrest outcomes, eighth graders learn CPR

NOW: In effort to improve cardiac arrest outcomes, eighth graders learn CPR

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Schools across the state of Indiana are now required to have automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) at sporting events.

This comes after two young athletes collapsed this year from heart attacks.

In January, 24-year-old Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin had to be resuscitated on the field after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Then, in August, Lebron James’s son Bronny suffered a cardiac arrest on the basketball court at just 18.

Bystander intervention when someone is experiencing cardiac arrest can double or triple the chances of survival. Wednesday, entrepreneurship company enFocus hosted an event to increase the community's knowledge of CPR.

“We’re seeing more and more in the news that cardiac arrests are happening to anybody at any age,” said Alexia Velazquez, civic innovation fellow at enFocus.“So getting this next generation prepared for when this happens to their friend on the football field or at basketball practice is very important, because this really does save lives.”

Eighth graders from across St. Joseph County got this training at Four Winds Field in South Bend.

“When they come here, not only are they seeing it on video, they’re actually being able to do the task, so hands-on is something people talk about in education,” said Nicole Medich, director of school learning for South Bend Schools.

Velazquez helped organize the event.

“This is our 5th year doing this event actually, so it came out of the idea of our out-of-hospital cardiac arrest task force,” she said. “So it’s a few organizations, such as Beacon, St. Joe, Notre Dame, and enFocus themselves. And together, we came up with a few strategies to address the issue of cardiac arrest and the survival rates in St. Joseph County.”

But, why eighth graders?

“They’re on the precipice of that learning curve,” Medich said. “So, they’re just old enough to understand what saving a life means, and the actions that it’ll take to get there. And then, from that technical piece, they’re bigger and can do those CPR moves with some tenacity, which is needed.”

Velasquez says the students get to keep the CPR kits they are given at training to take home and practice and spread the word about how to keep someone alive while waiting for medical help.

“Now, we’ve trained to date about 7,000 students, and we’ve done studies that the multiplier effect is about 2.85, so multiple that by about 7,000 students, we’ve trained close to, in 5 years, about 20,000 people in St. Joseph County to do hands-only CPR,” she said.

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