Opinion

And a little child could save you

How young is too young to save a life? The Tatarian children of Bonney Lake - Samuel, Isaia and Satapat - are all 10 or younger, but they recently helped perform life-saving CPR on their father, Jack (second from right).
How young is too young to save a life? The Tatarian children of Bonney Lake - Samuel, Isaia and Satapat - are all 10 or younger, but they recently helped perform life-saving CPR on their father, Jack (second from right). Photo courtesy East Pierce Fire & Rescue

Despite all the blessings of the holidays that can fill one’s heart to the brim, South Sounders are familiar with unhealthy abundance, too. It’s not unusual to feel weighed down by emotional and financial stress, succumb to overindulgence of food and drink, and put off smart lifestyle choices such as exercise until after the first of the year.

No wonder several studies confirm an uptick in heart-related hospital and ambulance calls around Christmas.

So as families prepare to hunker down in multi-generational gatherings over the coming weeks, they’d be wise to ensure they have some CPR and First Aid skills in the house.

Home is not only where the heart is; it’s where roughly 88 percent of all cardiac arrests occur, according to the American Heart Association.

Should an emergency strike your household this winter — or anytime of year — here’s a lesson from the experts at East Pierce Fire & Rescue: Never underestimate the life-saving abilities of a child.

Jack Tatarian of Bonney Lake likely wouldn’t be around to celebrate the holidays with his wife and three kids this year if they hadn’t initiated CPR on him at home.

Tatarian and his family attended an East Pierce fire commission meeting last month, giving thanks to the team of professionals who responded quickly on Sept. 5 when he went into cardiac arrest.

He surely expresses daily gratitude to his wife Johanna and children, Samuel, Isaia and Satapat. They offer a textbook example of how early CPR improves the chances of survival. The Tatarians kept their poise and took basic steps to keep Jack’s brain oxygenated before a Bonney Lake police officer and East Pierce paramedics arrived.

With no time to waste, the family started by making the all-important 911 call. Dispatchers from South Sound 911 then provided telephone guidance for administering CPR.

“The children had to assist with rolling their father over so that compressions could be started,” according to an East Pierce press release.

That sounds matter-of-fact. But look at a photo of the Tatarian kids — two small boys and a girl, ages 8, 9 and 10, dwarfed while standing next to their fireplug of a father — and it seems a remarkable feat of strength, the kind that tends to emerge in time of crisis.

In 2013, Washington state lawmakers affirmed the value of young people learning CPR by passing a law requiring it for high school graduation, starting with the Class of 2017. A natural next step would be standardizing it as part of health curricula for middle school students, or even younger. We entrust kids with sophisticated digital devices at younger and younger ages; why not empower them to save lives with those hands?

Indeed, students as young as 9 are capable of learning and performing CPR, according to a 2009 study. Nine of ten children age 9 to 18 demonstrated proficient skills, though only 69 percent were able to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation properly.

That’s why hands-only CPR is catching on as an easy, effective technique for young people and adults alike. East Pierce offers free classes at its Bonney Lake headquarters station; the hour-long sessions are popular among (but not limited to) high-risk families. Several other local emergency service agencies teach it, too.

Rather than a candle for mom and a necktie for dad, a child could do worse this Christmas than draw up a gift certificate for the family to attend a CPR class together.

One never knows when the people closest to us will be needed to bestow the greatest gift of all — life. Just ask the Tatarians.

  Comments