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Students learn how to save a life

CPR investment rolled out at Sand Creek Middle School

Sand Creek Middle School students learn how to use hands-only CPR kits, donated by First Niagara.

Sand Creek Middle School students learn how to use hands-only CPR kits, donated by First Niagara. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— Eleven-year-old Joey Mendrick didn’t know what hit him when he woke up in the hospital last spring.

The Sand Creek Middle School student remembered trying to dodge a baseball while playing in a Little League game, but nothing else. When the doctors told him his heart stopped when he was struck in the chest by the ball, he learned how CPR saved his life.

Inspired by Mendrick’s life-changing story, First Niagara invested $10,000 to donate 275 CPR Anytime kits to 20 schools in the Capital Region. They started their donating spree at Sand Creek Middle School on Thursday, Oct. 25, handing out 16 CPR Anytime kits. The kits teach students hands-only CPR, which is just as effective as mouth-to-mouth CPR.

“One of the reasons we chose this particular investment was I’m on the board of (the) American Heart Association, so I have knowledge of some of the objectives of the AHA,” said Peter Cosgrove, regional president for Upstate New York for First Niagara. “There is such a critical need for CPR training, so we felt that this is a way to touch a lot of people on an ongoing basis.”

The reusable kits will be used in the school’s health classrooms and each eighth-grader will be CPR-trained by the end of the year.

“The earlier you train people and the more people you train, the greater the chance someone can be there to take advantage of their training to avert a disaster,” Cosgrove said.

Although CPR is taught in the school’s health classes, Sand Creek Associate Principal Thomas Nicholson said it wasn’t as “formal or organized” as it will be now. Another former Sand Creek Middle School student, Casey Stashenko, saved his father’s life last year using CPR skills he had learned in health class.

“In one year’s time, the example of Joey being saved in our community and also one of our students who was trained in this procedure who actually saved his father’s life is enough proof that I need that it’s a worthwhile skill,” Nicholson said. “The skills can be adapted to this age level very quickly.”

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