Fruita High School students learn CPR to disco tune

Fruita Monument High School sophomores Meredith Soychak, 15, left, and Kaila Kerstetter, also 15, practice their new-found skill of chest compressions as instructor Fidel Garcia dances in the background to the “Saturday Night Fever” theme song during a P.U.L.S.E. class in saving lives Wednesday.

Remember this: It’s important to keep a rhythm of 103 beats per minute when attempting to restart the heart using cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“But, that’s kind of boring,” said Fidel Garcia as he turned the volume up and began to dance to the Bee Gee’s hit single, “Stayin’ Alive,” in the gym at Fruita Monument High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Evidently the disco song not only spans the generations in popularity, it keeps the perfect beat needed to save a life.

“It made it really fun,” said Alysha Hand, a 10th-grader who was practicing keeping the beat while applying chest compressions to a CPR training mannequin.


This week, more than 55 students will complete the program named PULSE, an acronym for “Preventing Unnecessary Life-loss through Student Education.”

“I really think if an emergency happens, I could do it,” 10th-grader Amanda Stack said.

The program is being offered during health and wellness classes and includes training in CPR, choking prevention and healthy living.

Each student earns CPR certification after taking the 50-minute class.

The PULSE program was started by Garcia and Rudy Malesich, a former principal at Fruita Middle School.

One summer many years ago, the two worked together as emergency medical technicians in Lake County. Malesich recalls attending 11 emergency scenes in one month and not being able to save a single person. He said young people were standing helpless in many of those situations because they did not know what to do to help.

“So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to start a program to teach young people that they can save a life,” Malesich said.

Classes are scheduled in other high schools this spring, and Malesich plans to include middle schools in the program next fall.

“We could make Mesa County one of the safest places to live in this respect,” he said.

While the sessions are fun, Garcia stresses the importance of good technique and prompt response in an emergency situation. Garcia explained Wednesday that, as an EMT, he had been on-scene at about 500 cardiac-arrest situations during his career, and only 10 of those people survived. The few who did survive could thank quick CPR efforts by those on the scene before paramedics arrived, he said.

“It’s a good idea to teach those that are young, because not that many people really know CPR,” said Chelsey Spencer, a student volunteer currently enrolled in EMT training at Mesa State College.

Students in the sessions also received a PULSE T-shirt that reads, “I can save your life.”

“You can’t underestimate these young people. They can do it,” Malesich said.


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