COOS BAY — In order for Oregon students to graduate high school, they must learn CPR.
On Tuesday at Marshfield High School, freshmen not only learned how to do CPR but also how to identify early signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
Rick Cooper is the training center administrator for Bay Cities Ambulance and the American Heart Association, and held Tuesday’s training alongside other EMTs and Bay Area Hospital staff.
“We did this training at both Marshfield and North Bend High School for freshmen health classes,” Cooper said as students in one of the final lessons of the day compressed CPR dummies and playfully shouted at each other to call 911. “They are learning hands-only CPR, heart attack recognition, and from here will teach five more family members or friends.”
The program, designed by the American Heart Association, has a goal to reach 1,000 people in the community. So far in just the past two weeks, Cooper has led the training for 40 students at North Bend High School and 90 just on Tuesday at Marshfield.
“This is our first year doing this program, but will continue to do this every year because Oregon is mandated that these kids learn CPR,” Cooper said.
He stood in front of the class and recalled an incident there in the Coos Bay School District when student knowledge of CPR saved a life.
Back in 2017, Coach Alex White had a heart attack after a boys’ basketball game at Millicoma School. On the night it happened, White’s middle school basketball team had just lost the game to North Bend.
After he collapsed in the Millicoma Gym, a student remembered that the Automated External Defibrillator was kept in the main office. He took with him White’s friend, Matt Devine, who ripped the AED off the wall to take it back with them to the gym.
“I remember when the lights came back on and Matt said to me, ‘Don’t sue me if I broke anything,’” White had laughed during a school board meeting when his rescuers were honored that year. “I may have heart issues, but my ribcage is strong because no one could believe that nothing was broken during CPR, so I have that going for me.”
On Tuesday at Marshfield’s Pirate Hall, Bay Cities Ambulance Operations Supervisor Travis Elam explained that in a short amount of time, all students in both Bay Area high schools will be taught this life-saving technique.
“This is an outreach with the hospital and Bay Cities Ambulance and our goal is to involve as much of the community as possible, to get people into paramedic care and to the hospital viable, so when we have these emergencies our community is involved and committed to helping,” he said.
During the course, 9th grader Sierra Brouse said she was surprised by some of what she learned, including not needing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation during CPR.
“I can’t believe how much energy CPR takes,” she laughed, adding that she hopes to go into medicine later on and become a nurse anesthetist.
As for Cooper, he was excited by how many students were being taught the skill so quickly.
“The kids are having fun and hopefully will be able to save some lives,” he said.