Empowering Our Hispanic Communities to Save Lives With CPR

By: Manuel Medina

I'll never forget what happened after my first day teaching CPR. It was a Friday, and that following Monday, a student returned. He told me that he had to use CPR on one of his clients-- one day after completing the class!

Just a month earlier, I knew I was in for a big career change moving out of the ambulance, but I never would have imagined that this change would be the most incredible transition of my life. If the news that one of my students helped save a life thanks to what he learned in my class wasn't a sign that I was putting my talents to good use in my new job, then I don't know what else could be.

My name is Manuel Medina, and I'm an American Heart Association Instructor in first aid, CPR and AED use in southern California.

After graduating from Doña Ana Community College more than 10 years ago with a degree in Applied Science in Emergency Medicine, I decided to become a paramedic. Given my passion for saving lives, this career path seemed like a great fit. While I'm no longer a first responder, I'm still able to give back by being an instructor and educating new generations of paramedics and lifesavers-- and that job has been its own reward.

Day in and day out, I see how communities are empowered with more people learning CPR. But as a Latino, it pains me that more in my community aren't as prepared. The Latino community needs more people to get trained in CPR so that we understand how to respond if someone suddenly collapses in our community.

This is why I am excited about the American Heart Association and Anthem Foundation teaming up to produce a new video that is tailored to Latino millennials and that shows how to perform Hands-Only CPR. The video, which was released on June 1st just in time for CPR and AED Awareness Week (June 1-7, 2016), encourages more Latino millennials, like myself, to learn how to conduct CPR if someone suffers a cardiac arrest.

Nearly one-in-four U.S. Hispanics are millennials, and it is time to teach this generation - my generation - this simple skill that could save the life of someone they love.

Every year, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital; only 10 percent of those people survive. In the United States, Latinos and blacks are at a higher risk for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest with a poor prognosis. Latinos specifically are 30 percent less likely to have bystander CPR performed on them in a cardiac emergency, making them less likely to survive. CPR can double or even triple the chances of survival if provided immediately.

Looking back, the most life-altering change that has happened to me, has resulted in the best thing that ever happened to me. Instead of saving a few lives, through the EMTs and individuals I teach, I get to save thousands of lives. Now it's your turn to be part of the solution! Take 90 seconds and watch the video today at heart.org/handsonlycpr.

Manuel Medina is a paramedic, American Heart Association Instructor and AHA volunteer.