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Rafael Rendon is spark for effort to teach CPR in schools

Ajo Copper News of Ajo, Arizona

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Twelfth-grade student Rafael Rendon and the Red Raiders of Ajo Unified School District are getting some serious cybertime on the Web with the American Heart Association's petition to Governor Jan Brewer to make it a law that every 8th grade student in Arizona leam chest-only CPR, also known as continuous chest compressions, or CCC. Rendon's story as a survivor of sudden cardiac arrest is being used as the catalyst to persuade Brewer.

Three years ago during the high school football season, Rafael, or Ralphie, as he is commonly known, suited up with his teammates for practice after school. He said he remembers feeling very tired that day. The players began by running laps around the field. Before completing the first lap, Rendon slowed down, then collapsed. He said all he knows about what happened is what family and friends told him more than two weeks later, after surgery to repair a congenital heart defect that had gone undetected.

When Rendon fell, assistant coach and paramedic Lonnie Guthrie rushed from the sidelines and immediately began chest compressions. Guthrie was soon assisted by on-duty ambulance crews. Rendon's heartbeat returned and he was flown by medevac to a Phoenix hospital.

The petition to Brewer needs local support, according to grassroots organizers, and everyone is asked to contact political representatives. The hope is to create a generation of lifesavers by making sure students learn CPR before they graduate.

"What if Lonnie hadn't been there that night?" asks Bridget Rendon, Ralphie's mother. "With this training a fellow student could have jumped in and started compressions. By training people this young they can save a life anywhere at anytime for the rest of their lives. Please take a moment to fill out the simple form on the webpage that will go directly to your representative."

The necessary form to contact a state representative is at online.

Bridget added that the American Heart Association is planning a lobby day in front of Phoenix city offices on January 31. It is anticipated the Rendon family will be interviewed, possibly on camera, for the event.

Copyright 2013 Ajo Copper News, Ajo, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 2, 2013

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