Texas youths set record for world's largest CPR training class

By Jeff Mosier
The Dallas Morning News

ARLINGTON, Texas — Most of Arlington's eighth-graders were sprawled across the Cowboys Stadium field and into the record books Tuesday.

The 4,626 youths set the record for the largest-ever CPR training class. An official with Guinness World Records reviewed sign-in sheets and turnstile counts and observed how the CPR class was taught. Shortly after the students finished lunch, Tuesday's effort was declared a record.

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, who helped organize the CPaRlington program in 2006, said the record is good, but he hopes the seriousness of the effort isn't lost.

"You're here not to set a record but to save a life," Cluck told the youths Tuesday.

The 30-minute class broke the previous record — set in Oslo, Norway — by nearly 1,000 people.

"By any stretch of the imagination, clearly that record was broken this day," said Danny Girton Jr., the Guinness official. "It was fun to see all these people with their smiling faces learn something."

He said about 3 percent of the 1,000 weekly submissions to Guinness World Records are eventually certified. Sometimes it takes weeks to validate a record, but this was done within minutes of the class's completion.

Girton was also at the September ceremony that certified the Mitsubishi Diamond Vision video board in Cowboys Stadium as the world's largest HDTV.

Emajae Clements, a 13-year-old from Ousley Junior High, described being on the stadium floor as an "out-of-body experience." Equally thrilling, she said, was working with her classmates to achieve a world record.

"It's going to be the first thing I tell people about myself," Emajae said.

Kelton Moore, a 14-year-old at Ousley, said he had seen the stadium plenty of times on television, but it's different in person.

"It looks even better," he said.

As expected with thousands of junior high students, there was plenty of goofing around during the lesson. Giggling was common when they first gave their inflatable mannequins mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and more than a few decided to head butt or slap their Mini Anne CPR dummies. But most appeared to take the lesson seriously.

Cluck walked several laps around the field during the lesson, and he said most participants understood the techniques and could resuscitate someone if needed. Each student is now required to take the dummies home and teach four other people.

Fire Chief Robin Paulsgrove said it's crucial to have as many people as possible familiar with CPR because brain cells can start dying as quickly as four minutes after a heart stops beating.

"I'd have to have an Arlington firefighter in every home in this community," Paulsgrove said about guaranteeing that kind of response time.

For most at the stadium Tuesday, the CPR class was speculative. It was all about "what if" scenarios.

Carl Langley of Fort Worth watched the training and took it much more personally. A decade ago, he suffered sudden cardiac arrest. He had no chest pain or other symptoms that hinted he should go to a doctor.

Langley said a co-worker knew CPR, and the first responder had an automated external defibrillator. The combination, he said, saved his life.

"I've got to watch my grandchildren grow up," said Langley, 67. "I've got to spend another 10 years with my wife."

He said that someone else suffering from a potentially fatal heart attack might one day be just as lucky as he is, thanks to one of the children sitting on the stadium floor.


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