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New program seeks to bring CPR training to county’s high schools

Emergency medical technician Gabrielle Naeole (center) gives CPR instructions to senior Christel Lugdu and sophomore Bushtun Rodil. Naeole and paramedic Heidi Voss started Be RAD, a nonprofit program which aims to bring CPR training to local high schools. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

Gabrielle Naeole was busy cooking dinner when her husband came home from paddling one day. She didn’t think anything was wrong until she heard him snoring in the other room.

“My husband doesn’t snore,” she said.

Naeole went to investigate and realized her husband had suffered a seizure and had no pulse. Naeole, an emergency medical technician, called 911 and immediately began CPR. When paramedics arrived, it took four shocks of the defibrillator to revive him.

Now, “he is completely the same person he was before  . . . because there was CPR done early and done right,” Naeole told a group of high school students Monday. “He’s a healthy, young, fit Hawaiian guy. It can happen to people you know.”

Naeole and paramedic Heidi Voss want students to be ready if that happens. On Monday, the two instructed sophomores at Maui High School in CPR as part of their new program, Be RAD (recognize, activate, do), which aims to make CPR training a widespread habit in local high schools. Thanks to recent donations of mannequins and training defibrillators from local Realtors, schools also will have the equipment to practice on.

Sophomore Nalani Roadrik applies compressions to a mannequin’s chest in the Maui High Gym on Monday. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

Effective CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. However, 70 percent of people do not know CPR or have forgotten their training, according to the American Heart Association. Because 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home, it could be a family member or friend who needs saving.

The RAD acronym reminds students to recognize that something is wrong, activate the emergency process by calling 911 and do CPR until paramedics can arrive. This keeps the heart, and thus the brain, alive.

“Every one minute CPR is not performed, chances of survival drop 10 percent,” Naeole said. “Ten minutes is not very long. On a standard day, if we’re in town, it can take an ambulance four to 12 minutes to get to you. You guys are going to be the chain of survival.”

First, try to wake up the victim and check for signs of normal breathing, such as the chest rising, heartbeats or air passing through, Voss and Naeole explained. Calling 911 comes next. Recently, Hawaii also became the seventh state to add a Text to 911 service.

To perform CPR, a person must place one hand on top of the other in the center of the chest, lock arms straight and push down hard and fast. Compressions should go down at least two inches at a rate of at least 110 compressions per minute, but not too fast, otherwise the heart can’t fill with blood, Naeole said.

Maui High sophomore Michael Villon applies pads to a mannequin with an automated external defibrillator training device Monday. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

On Monday, Naeole and Voss had students focus on hands-only CPR. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation can take away from constant compressions, Voss said.

Students also learned how to use an automated external defibrillator, placing one pad on the chest and the other just below the ribcage on the opposite side. They then gave the patient space and administered a fake shock.

For sophomore Kaylee Delgado, the class was just what she needed as she works toward becoming an emergency medical technician.

“It’s nice knowing you can save someone’s life,” Delgado said. “There’s pressure (as an EMT), but you have people with you. You’re not on your own.”

Maui High health teacher John Melia said that the school has taught CPR before but didn’t have the equipment to practice on. Money is tight, and supplies take awhile to approve and purchase, so when Melia found out that several mannequins were being donated, he was “completely shocked.”

“I didn’t see us being able to get this amount all at once,” Melia said.

Maui High was the first to receive a CPR training kit, and local paramedic Chris Gilbert hopes to take kits to all public and private high schools in Maui County.

“I’ve always had a vision to teach every sophomore in our county CPR,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert got the chance when Marilyn Griffin, the new president of the Maui Realtors Association, asked him how she could give back to the community as part of her theme of “Realtors with a heart,” said Isla Mitchell Jencks, a Wailea Realtor who handles communications for the association. Gilbert suggested purchasing CPR training equipment for schools.

After he spoke with Realtors in September, many offered to donate and gave enough to purchase at least 12 training kits for schools on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Each kit costs around $1,300 and includes eight mannequins and four automated external defibrillator training devices.

Gilbert is a longtime family friend of Naeole, and the two connected to bring equipment and training to schools through Be RAD. They said that the program is like the medical version of DARE, the nationwide Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in schools. Be RAD is under Tri-Isle RC&D, a nonprofit that takes in donations and handles bookkeeping while Be RAD seeks official nonprofit status.

Gilbert said that he hopes to see CPR become a requirement for all Hawaii students to graduate in the future. It’s already law in 34 states, according to the American Heart Association. Giving schools equipment and starting a habit of teaching CPR will help build the foundation for that, Gilbert said.

“So when the state says, ‘Who’s going to pay for it?”

. . . there won’t be any roadblocks,” he said.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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