Above: Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA 36th District) poses with students from Desert Mirage High School at the Heart2Heart health event on Friday, April 8, 2016 in Thermal, Calif. (Image: Amanda Flores)
By: Amanda Flores
THERMAL, Calif. — Hundreds of eastern Coachella Valley students earned their cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) automated external defibrillator (AED) certification earlier this month at a health career event at Desert Mirage High School.
The event, hosted by the Heart2Heart Foundation, connected students with dozens of health career representatives and even featured a special rescue demonstration by Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA 36th District), who arrived at the event in an air ambulance helicopter.
Richard DeRose, executive director of the Heart2Heart Foundation, said he organized the health career fair and CPR training with the Coachella Valley School District in order to instill confidence in students through learning life saving skills, like CPR.
“It is the [Heart2Heart] foundation’s goal to create a greater awareness about careers in nursing, para-medicine, and firefighting,” DeRose said. “By training every high school student in CPR and AED prior to graduating, we are creating safer communities and saving more lives.”
Currently, twenty-seven states require high school students to earn their CPR certification before graduating, but California is not on that list. Still, DeRose, a former flight paramedic and active American Heart Association basic life support instructor, said he is determined to help all Coachella Valley students learn how to perform CPR and use an AED.
In order to earn their CPR and AED certification, students needed to complete a two-part program. Students were required to complete the first part of the program online through the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver CPR/AED training curriculum. Then, came the practical skills evaluation and testing phase. Yudith Torres, a senior at Desert Mirage, was one of the students to successfully earn her CPR and AED certification.
“I feel that learning these essential life saving skills will help me out in any situation in life, and you never know when someone needs you,” Torres said. “It was an amazing opportunity to have the chance to learn how to save someone’s life.”
Ruiz, a former emergency room physician, said the students earning their CPR and AED certifications were preparing to become leaders in their community.
“Learning these life saving skills shows leadership and it gives you self confidence,” Ruiz said. “The fact that you are now able to save a life means that you have the responsibility to use your education and your skills to improve the lives of people in this community.”
The Heart2Heart Foundation also works to connect students interested in health careers with scholarship and mentorship opportunities. DeRose said he has received support from the Desert Sands Unified School District and the Palm Springs Unified School District to bring similar CPR and AED training programs to more high schools throughout Coachella Valley.
“Not only are we better preparing our students to save a life, but also creating a higher caliber of healthcare providers in the Coachella Valley,” DeRose said.
For more information regarding the Heart2Heart Foundation contact Richard DeRose, at 760-895-0041 or [email protected]
About the author:
Amanda Flores, 15, is a lifelong Coachella resident. She joined Coachella Unincorporated last year and has already written several articles on community health and farmworker services. After high school, Amanda said she wants to study law or medicine. View Amanda‘s author page here.