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American Red Cross offering free CPR training for teens at Kitsap Mall

Aimee DeVaughn, an AmeriCorps member with West Sound Red Cross holds two mannequins while Jackie Fojtik, West Sound Red Cross’ health and safety outreach manager rearranges a few others at the Bremerton office Monday. Kitsap teens will have the chance to learn CPR through West Sound Red Cross Saturday, Jan. 29 at Kitsap Mall.  - Kristin Okinaka/staff photo
Aimee DeVaughn, an AmeriCorps member with West Sound Red Cross holds two mannequins while Jackie Fojtik, West Sound Red Cross’ health and safety outreach manager rearranges a few others at the Bremerton office Monday. Kitsap teens will have the chance to learn CPR through West Sound Red Cross Saturday, Jan. 29 at Kitsap Mall.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka/staff photo

They have pale faces, no eyes and their mouths are always gaping.

“They’re weird because they have little lights and if you fail, the light goes on and says they died,” Olympic High School senior Autumn Kreifels said of the CPR mannequins in her sports medicine class. “Green light means they’re living. Red light means they’re dead.”

Kreifels, 17, is certified in CPR and basic first aid, but Kitsap teenagers who are not can learn adult CPR and receive certification from the American Red Cross Serving King and Kitsap County Saturday, Jan. 29 at Kitsap Mall in Silverdale. This will be the West Sound Red Cross’ eighth year of CPR Saturday for Teens. The two-and-a-half hour course will include a video and a hands-on segment where teens will practice CPR on the mannequins.

Although young people may not need the lifesaving procedure as often as older people, Jackie Fojtik, health and safety outreach manager of West Sound Red Cross, said it’s as important for young people to know.

“You never know when you will have to use it,” Fojtik said.

And research shows that “bystander CPR,” or CPR performed by a stranger or a companion who are not professional medics, contributes to a higher survival rate following a medical emergency.

When a person’s heart stops, brain death occurs in eight to 10 minutes. Performing CPR doubles the chance of survival compared to no bystander CPR among all cardiac arrests treated by medics, said Dr. Graham Nichol, director of the University of Washington Harborview Center for Prehospital Emergency Care. About 30 percent of people receive bystander CPR when medics arrive on scene, he added.

And just as a bystander performing CPR will increase the person’s survival rate, first aid, when done correctly, can save lives, as was shown in Tucson, Ariz. last week.

A 20-year-old intern of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., is credited with saving the congresswoman’s life by responding quickly to Saturday’s shooting. He learned basic nursing training in high school and immediately checked pulses and breathing of those wounded and determined Giffords to be in the worst state of victims that were still alive, according to MSNBC.com. He held her upright to keep her from choking on blood and applied pressure to her head wound.

But besides learning a skill that could save a person’s life, being CPR certified is an additional point teenagers can include on resumes, Fojtik said.

The organization had a little more than 200 teenagers participate in the training course last year and hope to reach 250 this time, said Director Janet Heath of West Sound Red Cross. Beginning in 2011, Red Cross CPR certification lasts for two years, previously it expired after one year, she added. The program is free for teens, as they are not as likely as adults to spend their own money, Fojtik said.

Manny Colon, a junior at Central Kitsap High School, said he is looking for a job and saw an opening for a life guard position at the YMCA. He is a good swimmer but is not CPR certified and said that being certified before he applies could be an advantage. But besides knowing CPR for a job, Colon, 17, said it would be useful to know in everyday situations.

If a friend suffers a medical emergency, “You should know how to help him,” Colon said.

The Central Kitsap School District offers CPR training and certification through sports medicine classes at its three high schools. The district has been offering the training since 1993 and this school year there are 180 students enrolled in sports medicine classes, said David Beil, district spokesman.

Bremerton School District spokeswoman Patty Glaser said that Bremerton High School offers CPR training and certification through family health, nutrition and conditioning, sports medicine and independent living classes.

West Sound Red Cross offers CPR training classes to adults and certifies about 1,400 people a year, Fojtik said. The Bremerton Fire Department offers monthly adult CPR training and limits the class to eight people, said Mick McKinley, assistant chief of the department. The class is by donation, and is typically full, he added. Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue cut its free CPR training program beginning this year because of budget cuts, said Battalion Chief Joe Repar.

“It was a hard pill to swallow to stop doing the program,” Repar said. “We’re looking to come up with the program in the future.”

Meanwhile, many teenagers will flood the mall at the end of the month to not shop, but to learn how to do chest compressions and check for breathing.

CPR Saturday for Teens

American Red Cross will teach adult CPR and certify 12 to 18-year-olds Saturday, Jan. 29 at Kitsap Mall in Silverdale.

Cost is free.

Sessions begin at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Pre-registration is requested by calling (360) 478-7685 or e-mailing cprforteens@seattleredcross.org.

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