My Senior Project back at Ashley Hall High School was inspired by a traumatic event that happened to my friend in the summer of 2009. He almost lost his life, and was saved by CPR.
Coleman Maness and Bailey Barnes and their families had gone to St. Martin for vacation. After renting jet skis and spending 15 minutes on the water, Bailey noticed he could not see Coleman. He searched for about ten minutes then spotted him, unconscious, face-down in the water.
Bailey jumped in to try to save Coleman; however, he had no idea what he was doing. He flipped Coleman over and saw that his face was blue and he was foaming from his mouth. Bailey knew he had to perform CPR, but he didn’t know how. He tried breathing into Coleman’s mouth several times, but was unsuccessful. Bailey was treading water while trying to administer the amateur rescue breaths. Then he tried giving chest compressions. After several agonizing minutes, Coleman finally started to breathe.
Coleman was very lucky that day. Bailey kept calm and was quick to respond. I knew if I were in Bailey’s place at the time, I would not have known what to do. I wondered, “How many seniors in high school know how to administer CPR?” The sad truth is, other than being required to know CPR for lifeguarding or camp counseling, most teenagers do not know CPR.
As a result, for my senior project I became an instructor of CPR. My goal was to certify my senior class before we all graduated. I teamed up with Coleman and Bailey, as well as the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association to publicize the importance of CPR training, and gained amazing support. My mom and stepdad, shown in the picture above with me, encouraged me every step of the way.
When I presented my project to my Head of School I proposed that CPR certification should be an Ashley Hall graduation requirement. I had meetings with the administrative team and the Board to get this plan into the curriculum, and now current seniors are teaching the rest of their class as a result of my project.
As my friends and I went off to college, I knew we were all capable of saving a life if we needed to do so. In fact, two classmates of mine have since used CPR to save the life of another friend. In that situation, my friends were able to stay calm, assess the situation, and perform CPR until EMS was on the scene. I am so proud of those classmates, because this is truly the vision I had in mind. Training for CPR teaches everyone how to control a situation and proceed with confidence to help in any way possible.
Because this issue touched me personally I felt compelled to promote CPR awareness to a broader community. I been supporting the You're the Cure's efforts to make CPR certification a statewide graduation requirement for high school, and I am hoping that this bill will one day be passed in every state. I hope that everyone can see the value of this project and need to learn the skills required for CPR.
Sally (r) and 2 of her CPR trainees