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Full court press for compressions

Colonie boys affected by CPR part of effort to teach method in schools

On Tuesday, April 16, Casey Stashenko, 14, and Joey Mendrick, 12, advocated for lawmakers at the Capitol to pass a bill requiring mandatory CPR training for high school students.

On Tuesday, April 16, Casey Stashenko, 14, and Joey Mendrick, 12, advocated for lawmakers at the Capitol to pass a bill requiring mandatory CPR training for high school students. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— “At my game, I was surrounded by adults that knew what to do, but what if it was pick-up game with just kids present? CPR being taught in school is something fun, easy to learn and can quickly become a real game changer,” Mendrick said.

Some, however, weren’t as lucky, though. Karen Acompora of Northport lost her 14-year-old son in 2000 when he was struck in the chest while playing lacrosse. In his honor, she founded the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation to ensure the placement of AEDs, or automated external defibrillator, in public places.

“Training the next generation of life savers who know how to respond in the event of a cardiac emergency should be a top priority in our school districts. With faster response times to a cardiac emergency, we actually have the ability to reduce the number of sudden cardiac deaths in our nation,” she said.

According to the American Heart Association, about 300,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur in the United States annually. The survival rate is below 8 percent. Hands-Only CPR has become the preferred method since many people were afraid to do mouth-to-mouth CPR. Bob Elling, a Colonie paramedic, said use of CPR can double or triple the survival rate.

“There’s only so many people I can save as a paramedic … but we can train people to save people,” he said.

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