If these high school freshmen are ever tested on what they are learning now, the grade may not be pass or fail. It could be life or death.
A class at John C. Fremont High in Sunnyvale is part of an innovative new program aimed at ultimately teaching thousands of people in the city how to responds to someone suffering a heart attack. Each student receives a kit, with a practice mannequin and a 20-minute DVD. The course guides them through the proper technique for applying chest compressions, along with rescue breathing techniques which could still be necessary for infants or unconscious patients.
Although the DVD also gives students the newly updated advice from the American Heart Association, letting them know that in most cases hands-only techniques are effective by themselves.
"You're doing something here today, maybe not tomorrow, but sometime in your life will help provide you an opportunity to save somebody's life," said a Sunnyvalep public safety officer.
The program is the brainchild of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety which monitors emergency response systems in the city.
"We have about 35 people saved using our police defibrillators, and the defibrillators on our fire engines, however we feel we could do much better," said Lt. Steve Drewniany with the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.
So, after the training, students are being asked to use their kits to train friends and family members, potentially creating a pool of thousands of effective first responders who could apply CPR until paramedics arrive. School officials say the students are taking that responsibility seriously.
"My uncle had a fire in the kitchen and debris got in his lungs. He passed out and had a heart attack," said student Brittany Cole. "The paramedics got there soon enough, but it was a close call."
"I saw students training other students in the cafeteria, so they seem excited about it," said Asst. Principal Mary Beth Allman.
"You know you can save lives, so everyone took it seriously," said a student.