By Dr. Jared Salvo, MD | Op-Ed in the Bakersfield Californian | http://bit.ly/1NtQtIl
Monday, Jun 29, 2015 1:45 AM :: How many more deaths from cardiac arrest does our community need before action is taken to change this grim reality? Every year there are almost 424,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States, and of this figure an estimated 10,200 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen to children. In our community, we have lost two beautiful young teens to cardiac arrest within the past few months.
Jose Manuel Beltran, died on January 26, 2015, after collapsing at Cecil Avenue Middle School. Jose had undiagnosed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which led to his sudden cardiac arrest. Most recently, a 14 year-old student at Richland Jr. High School passed away from a sudden cardiac arrest as she walked to get a drink of water. 4 out of 5 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital setting and sadly less than 10 percent of those victims survive the event, but effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation can double or triple survival rates. Let’s not wait for another tragedy to unfold; we can proactively take steps to improve survival rates in our community.
In order to improve the chain of survival in Kern County, I urge local school boards to pass legislation to train students in CPR techniques and receive overview of automated external defibrillators prior to high school graduation, as well as require that all schools have AEDs onsite. High school is filled with countless life lessons, and I believe a school setting is the perfect place to teach life-saving skills like Hands-On CPR. If we pass legislation to train our high school students, we will put thousands of lifesavers in our community every year, creating a generation of lifesavers.
Studies have shown that young people are capable of learning CPR techniques and are capable of retaining the basic skills for the rest of their life. For example, American Heart Association volunteer and Taft Union High School student Sara Jewell, age 18, was able to save the life of a toddler, by administering CPR while attending Disneyland to perform with the Taft Union High School Advanced Choir. Sara learned CPR as a lifeguard at the Westside Recreation and Park District.
“The mom was holding her child and the child was limp. She hadn’t been breathing for a while. Her lips were blue, her eyes were rolled into the back of her head and she was convulsing. I immediately started giving her CPR. I did the breathing and a nurse did chest compressions. After more breathing treatments, the child turned her head and threw up spaghetti noodles and started coughing, and coughing is breathing.”
We can build on our momentum, improving the chain of survival. Last year, the Start A Heart committee championed the placement of AED’s in all Bakersfield high schools. This year we need AED’s to be placed in all middle schools and high schools in all Kern County.
If we build CPR training into the high school curriculum, we will equip our students with lifesaving skills, and we will hear more stories of survival and less stories of tragic results.
I believe implementing CPR in Schools at the local School Board level and placement of AEDs on all school campuses will empower our students to be heart savers ready to respond appropriately in an emergency cardiac situation.
Dr. Jared Salvo of Bakersfield is a cardiologist at Central Cardiology Medical Clinic and board president of the American Heart Association, Kern County