DURYEA, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Valentine’s Day is commonly depicted with heart-shaped images. But it’s actual hearts that were on the minds of some local students on Thursday. They used the special day as a way to help prevent a health tragedy.

We see it in the news all too often when a student collapses from sudden cardiac arrest. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, it’s why students joined forces to do something about it.

Fourth graders at Holy Rosary School in Duryea may have split up into squads for a Valentine’s Day game of gym hockey, but in a way they were all on the same team. They were all wearing red for a reason. Fourth grader Lily Rupprecht said, “I’m just glad that we could have a fundraiser.”

The dress-down day raised funds for tools and training on how to save the life of someone who suffers sudden cardiac arrest. Fourth grader Ethan Aftewicz said, “You need to do the CPR on them or like you won’t know how to.”

The fundraiser organized by the school’s PTO will help purchase two defibrillation manikins and pay for certified training. The goal is to teach CPR and and how to use an AED to the staff and the school’s 8th graders. Holy Rosary School PTO Vice President Lauren Pace said, “God forbid an emergency ever happened at school there would be someone anywhere to do it.”

So why is such training so important? Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association estimates that the survival rate is nearly 90% for a sudden cardiac arrest victim if the defibrillation occurs within the first minute of the attack. Holy Rosary School Physical Education and Health Instructor Ann Levandoski said, “We would like them (students) to leave here with training so should they ever need it and they’re called upon to use it in their community, they have it.”

Students like 8th grader Hailey Halagarda from Avoca who said, “It saves lives and no matter what age you are you can save someone’s life.”

Holy Rosary School PTO aimed to raise $350 to pay for the AED manikins and training. Any additional funds will be used to extend the training to families of students and perhaps even the community after the end of the school year.

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