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MUSD freshmen learning basic hands-only CPR
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Nine out of ten people that have a heart attack on television survive.

While it makes for good programming, Manteca District Ambulance Supervisor John Mendoza cringes whenever he sees the paddles come out on a hospital show. 

That’s because the numbers are actually reversed. If you have a heart attack outside of a hospital in an average American city today, there’s an 89 percent chance that you aren’t going to live through it. 

That doesn’t have to be the case. On Tuesday Mendoza gave a brief presentation to the Manteca Unified School District Board of Trustees outlining the recent program that the ambulance company – in conjunction with the district’s health services’ department, the Manteca Fire Department and the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District – has started with 9th-grade students teaching the basic outline of hands-only CPR. 

It’s not an official program. The students aren’t going to walk away with Healthcare Provider certification or any sort of certificate that they’ll be able to put on an application. But with more than 300 students already introduced to the program and 2,000 more waiting in the wings, the basic idea – introducing young people to the idea that they can save a life if CPR is administered early enough – could be the spark needed to reverse the tragically out-of-whack numbers. 

And Mendoza knows a thing or two about Manteca Unified and heart attacks and how beneficial early intervention is when it comes to saving lives. 

In 2009 he responded to a call at East Union High School when an office worker collapsed with what was later determined to be “the big one.” Fortunately for her, the school had just held CPR training the day before and an automated external defibrillator was on-hand – giving her the necessarily one-two punch prior to the arrival of an emergency medical service crew. 

He showed the “heroism” award that the school board gave him at the time for helping save the life of the staffer, but he was quick to point out that literally everything that needed to go right in her case did.

Mendoza also showed off “Lucas” – a CPR machine that administers perfect, two-inch thrusts at 100 beats per minute for 45 straight minute before the batteries start to die out.

Schools aren’t going to have those on hand. But widespread teaching of “hands-only” CPR – removing the breath ratio and focusing solely on the cardiac massage aspect of the process – according to Manteca Unified Health Services Director Caroline Thibodeaux, has worked wonders in places like Seattle where ratios have been greatly improved in only a short period of time. 

The project, Thibodeaux said, isn’t necessarily mapped out just yet. But after seeing the positive results in places like Washington, getting it started seemed more important than necessarily knowing where it was going – especially when arming students with knowledge that can make the difference between life and death for a friend or family member.