Potomac: Churchill Junior Organizes CPR Workshop for Fellow Students

Potomac: Churchill Junior Organizes CPR Workshop for Fellow Students

New law, cousin’s death inspires effort.

Churchill High School students gathered to learn CPR last week.

Churchill High School students gathered to learn CPR last week. Photo Contributed

Churchill junior Noah Perales “a-ha” moment came as he was engaged in reading about Breanna’s Law in The Washington Post. He read that Maryland ninth-grade students will be required to learn CPR as a graduation requirement.

Although this requirement would not affect him, he was more interested than many teenagers might be. He had often heard the story of his cousin, a University of Michigan professor, who had suddenly died from a heart attack, 20 years ago at the age of 39. If CPR had been administered, his life might have been saved.

According to the CDC, about 750,000 Americans experience a heart attack each year. Many die because they don’t receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene. Too few people know exactly how to administer CPR or use a defibrillator. The American Heart Association, along with the nation’s schools is trying to change this by advocating for more training.

Breanna’s law will come into effect this year in Maryland. The law is named for Breanna Sudano, a Perry Hall teenager who collapsed during a field hockey game at her school. She was saved when a bystander performed CPR on her.

“We need students armed with the ability to intercede in order to have the opportunity to save the life of a classmate or a teacher or a visiting parent at the time of an incident," said Yvette Mingo of the American Heart Association.

Breanna’s Law requires that “beginning with students entering grade 9 in the 2015–2016 school year, to graduate from a public high school, a student shall complete instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator. The law also requires that schools “incorporate the psychomotor skills necessary to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and to use an automated external defibrillator.”

After reading about the new requirement for freshmen, Noah realized that Churchill’s sophomore, junior and senior classes would miss out on the CPR training. He decided to initiate CPR training during the student lunch period. “It only takes about 20 minutes to train how to administer CPR,” he said. “The new program is called ‘Hands Only CPR.’ If one sees a teen or adult suddenly collapse, they should call 9-1-1 and then push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song, ‘Stayin’ Alive.’ It’s easy to learn — and makes sense for every teen to learn.”

Noah contacted the Sandy Spring Rescue Squad and Sgt. Custead agreed to come to Churchill at lunch on May 18 and 19 to train the 75 -80 students who had signed up. Noah posted the training on Facebook and also advertised on Churchill’s TV station. “I’m hoping to get the program established so that a majority of the students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grade classes at Churchill will be trained,” said Noah. “Deborah Stapleton, our school nurse was my faculty sponsor and Dr. Benz, our school principal was very supportive. My goal is to train students to become life-savers. Cardiac arrest is such a big problem — even teens can die from a heart attack.”

Noah hopes to offer a future training session at Churchill next October since it is national Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month.

Noah swims for the Nation’s Capital Swim Club, for the Churchill Swim team and is also a lifeguard at Potomac Swim and Tennis Club.