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Real Stories of Regular People Saving Lives

Jerling students and staff, as well as medical and emergency professionals, shared their experiences where knowing CPR and how to use a defibrillator saved a person's life.

's 7th grade student class successfully completed a course in CPR techniques and were treated to an assembly to celebrate their accomplishments. School Board Member Lynne Donegan is a proponent of the course offered to junior high students district-wide over the last four years, stemming from a personal experience.

This year alone, over 800 seventh grade students in District 135 schools were trained to use CPR and AED.  Donegan said she hopes that all schools, nationwide, will soon offer CPR/AED training. She was among several speakers at the assembly, including representatives from the Orland Fire Protection District, the Orland Park Police Department, American Heart Association, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Jerling students and staff.  

Colleen O'Sullivan, an active marathoner and relative of Donegan, suffered a heart attack while . No CPR was given to resuscitate O’Sullivan before paramedics arrived, nor was a defibrillator available. Donegan believes that her life could have been saved if someone present were trained in the skills and a defibrillator was nearby.

Donegan, along with her family and friends, helped enact the Colleen O’Sullivan Law which requires all physical fitness facilities in Illinois to have an AED (Automated external defibrillator) on premises. Dr. Chiampas, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, is part of CCARES (Chicago Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation Education Service), an organization focused on increasing survival of cardiac arrest victims in Chicago. The two have teamed together with a common goal, to give others the ability and knowledge necessary to save lives.

Many students and staff members shared personal stories of life and death situations they have experienced. Physical education teacher Maureen Zopf spoke of a situation where she had to revive a man who passed out while on a treadmil at a health club.

“There are no words to describe how great it felt to see him begin to breath again,” said Zopf.  “I will always remember on that day that I helped save someone’s life.”

Chiampas, who is also the physician for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago Marathon and World Cup, praised the students for their efforts and stressed the importance of the skills they had recently learned.  

“I hope you will never have to use it,” said Chiampas. “But the world is safer because you have this skill.”

House Bill 5114 passed through the Elementary and Secondary Education committee in Springfield on Wednesday morning, and will soon be heard by the full General Assembly. The proposed bill would require all schools in Illinois to provide CPR/AED training as part of the curriculum. According to Donegan, "the program offered would cost taxpayers nothing and will greatly empower our children with life saving skills.”

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