Representative wants CPR training in high schools

A defribrillator on the sideline of a field. (AP)

March 10, 2011 4:14:44 PM PST
The recent death of a North Carolina high school student is sparking conversation about learning CPR and having access to defibrillators in schools and public places.

Last week 16-year-old Javaris Brinkley died after a recreational basketball game at Lake Gaston Baptist Church.

According to the church's pastor, no one who was there knew there was a defibrillator in the other building and bystanders were hesitant to perform CPR.

"If you'll take a deep breath, realize this is a necessary thing to happen, follow through the steps, you can make a world of difference," Jeff Hammerstein, Wake EMS, said.

Hammerstein says if you see someone collapse, one person should call 911 and another should begin compression only CPR while someone else grabs a defibrillator.

Using another paramedic to demonstrate, Hammerstein showed ABC11 Eyewitness news how easy it is to use a defibrillator.

"I'm going to turn the power on," he explained while showing how to operate the machine. "It's going to show me exactly where to put the two pads, connect the electrodes [and] plug it in. At this point, the machine is going to analyze what needs to happen next, whether I need to press the flashing button or just stand back and wait."

It's that simple and it takes less than 30 seconds.

State Representative Becky Carney from Mecklenburg County says she is alive today thanks to CPR by security staff who had just been trained and an AED her freshman legislative class donated.

"I passed out, cardiac arrest, and was without a pulse for nine minutes," Carney said. "They saved my life."

Hammerstein is one of the paramedics who responded to the scene and transported Carney to the hospital.

And because of her experience, she's drafting two pieces of legislation that's near and dear to her heart.

One piece puts more AEDs in state buildings and other public places. The other would require high school students learn CPR in order to graduate.

One-third of schools in Wake County, the state's largest school system, are equipped with AEDs. Five to seven schools a week put the AEDs in place as staff is trained.

However, not all school systems in NC can say that. That's something Carney and Hammerstein would like to change before another young life is lost.

"EMS, the firefighters, we're all coming. We're coming fast but those critical moments between the time that you notice someone is down and when we can pull up and pull out our equipment, that may be the difference," Hammerstein said.

"People need to know this does save lives," Carney said.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association does not require licensed trainers at any events. Wake County high schools have at least one licensed athletic trainer of not more and up to three AEDs.

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