Valley Catholic students led a CPR training session at Washington Square during January.

By the end of May, well more than 4,000 Beaverton School District students will be ready to save lives after learning hands-only CPR.

Starting in January, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue instructors, with the help of high-school students in the district’s health careers program, have been going school to school to train seventh and eighth graders during health and physical education classes. The sessions will continue in April and May at Mountain View, Highland Park, Five Oaks and Meadow Park middle schools.

“That’s a dream come true for us to have that segment of the population trained for us,” said TVF&R Chief Mike Duyck.

Besides the middle-schoolers and the older health careers students, a trio of students has made it their senior project to teach Beaverton High School’s freshmen and sophomore classes the hands-only technique. Doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, without mouth-to-mouth breathing has proven to be as effective at saving lives but far simpler to teach.

Students will then have those skills available when they’re at home, where statistically nearly nine out of 10 cardiac arrest events occur. Even with a typical four- to six-minute emergency response from TVF&R, survival rates can more than double if someone begins effective CPR immediately after a heart attack.

Several of Beaverton’s schools already have taught the skills, modeled after a program at Valley Catholic School, but this is the first year that all of the Beaverton district’s middle schoolers will be involved, said TVF&R’s Alisa Cour, who has been working with the schools to schedule training sessions.

“It’s pretty astounding how many students will be trained this spring,” Cour said. “We’ll have a pretty huge number of people in our community who know what to do if someone goes into cardiac arrest.”

Instruction takes about 50 minutes per class. In that time, instructors describe the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and cardiac arrest, give a demonstration of the hands-only technique and allow time to practice on mannequins.

“We think it’s a very valuable use (of instructional time) and it can save lives,” school district spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler said. “It’s time well spent.”

Chief Duyck said Beaverton’s commitment brings TVF&R closer to a goal of having 7,500 middle schoolers trained annually across the fire district, which stretches south to West Linn and Wilsonville, and also includes the Tigard-Tualatin and Sherwood school districts.

By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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