August 2, 2008

Tracy Sixth-Graders Learn Life-Saving CPR Skills

By Jennifer Gokhman, Tri-Valley Herald, Pleasanton, Calif.

Aug. 2--TRACY -- Sixth-grade students at North Elementary School were excited to receive infant mannequins on their desks Thursday.

They were supposed to treat them as real human babies and handle them gently while learning infant CPR. The mannequins were not just dolls, but tools that the students could use so they could feel the lungs fill up with air as they administered CPR.

Learning CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and first aid was a part of the students' school days since Tuesday. All sixth-graders at North Elementary receive training through the CPR for Kids program funded by the Tracy Hospital Foundation.

The training is available to any Tracy Unified school that wants to participate for third-, sixth- and 10th-graders. The students learn how to perform adult, child and infant CPR as well as the Heimlich maneuver. In addition, students learn about health and nutrition.

"It's to teach them safety," said Khushwinder Gill, assistant principal at North Elementary. "CPR and first aid can save someone's life on the playground and at home also. Safety is our first priority."

She added that if students are baby-sitting their siblings or other children, they will know what to do if something happens.

"It's an awesome program," she said. "The kids love it."

Students receive 75-minute lessons three days in a row. Those who participate fully receive CPR cards. Certification lasts for two years.

"It's cool,"

said Al Medeiros, a sixth-grade teacher who coordinates the days and times the training comes to North Elementary.

He said that a girl in one of his previous classes ended up using the skills she learned from the CPR and first aid training while baby-sitting. Medeiros said he also teaches his class what to do if something happens to him while he's teaching.

"It was kind of cool because it taught us everything about people, saving their lives," said sixth-grader Susy Mendiola.

Instructor Kristine Orr from Life First Training Center in Stockton opened the class Thursday by asking students how they could prevent choking. Then students learned the Heimlich maneuver, used when people are choking to the point where they have difficulty breathing and can't speak.

They learned alternative methods for when a person is too large to wrap their arms around and what to do if they are alone and start choking.

"It was pretty fun," said sixth-grader Petra Ann Martinez. "It's important to learn in case someone does choke in your family."

Orr taught the signs of choking and told how a boy who had received training saved his high school librarian with the Heimlich maneuver when she choked on a piece of apple.

"He knew what to do, and he reacted," she said.

When people choke to the point where they become unconscious if the Heimlich maneuver doesn't work, CPR is the next step, as well as calling 9-1-1.

Orr also told the students they should not call 9-1-1 unless it is a real emergency. If they were choking and alone, they could dial 9-1-1, and emergency personnel would come to wherever they were.

"They are trained to send help," Orr said. "They know there are numerous situations where people can't talk. That's why calling 9-1-1 to prank call is not a good idea. ... It's a false alarm. Your parents could be fined."

Reach Jennifer Gokhman at 209-832-6144 or [email protected]


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