High school students learn CPR, earn certification

214 students will be certified this spring and about 100 more during summer school


The Press-Enterprise

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — ”Stayin’ a-li-i-i-ive,” reverberated through Room 108 at Norte Vista High School in Riverside where seven students pumped the chests of CPR mannequins.

“Keep going!” health teacher Monica Gutierrez yelled above the disco music, at 100 beats a minute. ”I need you to listen to the rhythm.”

Gutierrez is one of three Norte Vista teachers recently trained to certify students in CPR and first aid, which she now includes in the health class all students must pass to graduate.

She said 214 students will be certified this spring and about 100 more during summer school.

On Thursday, May 23, students practiced their CPR technique on a mannequin until they got it right, compressing the center of the chest 30 times, then tilting the head back and chin up, pinching the nostrils closed and giving it two rescue breaths through a small practice barrier sheet.

They know their new knowledge may save the life of a relative or friend.

Friday, seniors took their CPR and first-aid certification tests, and this week freshmen, sophomores and juniors will take the tests for two-year certification.

The three Norte Vista teachers hope that within a few years, they will certify every student before graduation, said Gary Packler, one of the teachers who was trained to certify students. Packler teaches the school’s Green Construction Academy.

The certification in high school will help students get entry-level jobs in construction and other fields, Packler said.

Many construction sites, for example, are starting to require workers to learn CPR, Packler said. Some students will need the CPR training for baby-sitting jobs this summer, Gutierrez said, and others will need the certification for summer jobs as lifeguards.

Child development teacher Jessica Hansen is the third teacher who may certify CPR training.

Gutierrez said they hope to recertify younger students just before they graduate in two or three years.

The seven mannequins Gutierrez uses in her classroom arrived about three weeks ago, with a few more expected soon.

In previous years, she said she taught the basics of CPR without mannequins and students didn’t earn certification.

Those basics enabled one of her previous students to save his father’s life when he had a heart attack the night after the classroom lesson, Gutierrez said. The student was able to do CPR until paramedics arrived and his father survived, she said.

“I think every person has to be trained,” she said.

Students agreed.

Eleventh-grader Patty Gonzalez said that during class she was thinking of the time her little sister “flipped in her floatie” in the pool.

“I got her and she coughed up water, but I was thinking it could have been worse,” Gonzalez said.

She and her classmates took turns practicing CPR on the five child-size and two adult-size mannequins and reviewed first-aid knowledge.

“I got to learn how to save a life,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a good experience not everyone gets to have.”

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