Students in Jonathan McClinton’s class at Zachary High School were selected to take part in a special event April 22 — a hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation training event using 20 new kits that were donated through a partnership between the American Heart Association and the Professional Firefighters Association of Louisiana.

Present at the training were the American Heart Association’s Stasha Rhodes, state government relations director; Cherelle Rozie, CPR in-schools manager; and Linzy Roussel Cotoya, public relations.

Also in attendance were Chad Major, president of the Professional Firefighters Association of Louisiana, and Britt Hines, a CPR trainer.

“Hands-only CPR, without mouth-to-mouth breaths, is recommended for people who see a teen or adult suddenly collapse in an out-of-hospital setting such as home, at work or out in the community, and consists of two easy steps: call 911 — or send someone to call — and push hard and fast in the center of the chest,” Hines said.

The instructor played for the students a video that shared survivor stories of people who performed CPR or had CPR performed on them and demonstrated the hands-only technique. Students then followed along using the kits, mannequins that “clicked” in the center of the chest indicating compressions were deep enough.

ZHS Principal Joe LeBlanc stressed the importance of learning the skill and related the story of 14-year-old Burke Cobb, the Dutchtown student who died in 2012 while playing basketball in the school’s gym following football practice.

It was later determined that Cobb had an undiagnosed heart condition, LeBlanc said.

“There were no AEDs and no one jumped in to perform CPR. Most likely because none of the other students knew how,” LeBlanc said.

Beginning next school year, ZHS will perform screenings on each student athlete, LeBlanc added.

In 2014, Louisiana enacted the Burke Cobb Act, becoming the 17th state to pass a law requiring all high school students to learn hands-only CPR as a graduation requirement.

The law mandates that students receive CPR and automated external defibrillator training, becoming ready and able to act whenever they witness an emergency, Rhodes said.

From the school perspective, the hands-on training can be incorporated at practically no cost, thanks to opportunities with local hospitals, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, and teachers do not have to be CPR-certified unless the course results in CPR certification.

Taking a CPR certification class in high school earlier this year was ZHS senior Bo Myers, who later used the lifesaving skill.

Myers found himself springing into action and performing CPR on his nephew, Carter Fancher, 7, following an accident.

For his actions, Myers was presented the PFFLA Lifesaving Award during the April 22 event.

“For your willingness to learn the principles of CPR, your courage to enact these principles in your nephew’s time of need, for the display of leadership you have shown and for the true act of heroism you presented for the greater good, we present you with this award,” Major said.

Major attended the award presentation and participated in the CPR training but required assistance from Myers and Rozie.

“Bo, his classmates and other 2015 graduates are the first under the new law to be required to learn hands-only CPR,” said Stasha Rhodes, who worked to get the Burke Cobb legislation passed.

Along with other organizations, the AHA has been pushing state legislatures across the country to pass laws requiring the training, Rhodes said.

“No one knows when or where a sudden cardiac arrest may strike, so training more people increases the odds someone will be prepared to give CPR,” Rhodes said.