El Paso

Teen to be recognized by the American Heart Association for knowing CPR in emergency

Hands-only CPR classes this weekend

Good Morning El Paso: February is...


February is American Heart Month, a time to learn what are the symptoms of heart disease and how to prevent it.

The Centers for Disease Control says heart disease is the leading killer in men and women. One in four deaths is linked to heart disease every year.

While it is important to know the symptoms and signs, it is just as crucial to know what to do in the event someone around you goes into cardiac arrest.

This weekend, the El Paso Fire Department will join a statewide campaign 'The Texas Two Step' to teach hands-only CPR. The state's eleven medical schools, including Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in El Paso will host lessons.

"If there is someone doing hands-only CPR, the chances of that person surviving are higher," said Carlos Briano, EPFD spokesman.

Briano said the lessons will are about 20 minutes long.

First, call 911 and make sure you know how to identify when someone has a heart attack.

The American Heart Association then recommends to give hard and fast compression in the center of the chest.

It is best to do so to the beat on any tune that is 100 to 120 beats per minute like the classing disco song 'Staying Alive.'

CPR can double or triple a person's chances of survival.

The El Paso Fire Department will be offering the public free lessons on basic, hands-only CPR on Saturday Feb. 11 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sun Metro Terminal on 601 S. Santa Fe St.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center will have free lessons from noon to 4 p.m. at The Fountains at Farah.


Layla Zapata is a freshman at Northwest Early College High School, but it was two years ago that she learned hands-only CPR as a seventh grader at Canutillo Middle.

"I took it serious, but did not think I was ever going to use it (CPR)," Layla said.

Little did she that she would end up using CPR to try and help her grandfather. Last summer, Laya was helping him with a home improvement project in the bathroom when he collapsed and gasped for air.

"I knew I had to call 911 because he wasn't responding," Layla said.

Layla and her sister laid their grandfather on the floor and that's when Layla realized she knew how to do CPR.

"I knew I had to do something about it, so I started doing CPR."

With a 911 dispatcher on speaker phone, Layla started the compressions and doesn't remember how long she continued pumping his chest, but it was long enough for paramedics to arrive.

In an unfortunate series of events, Layla's grandfather remained in the hospital for about ten days and passed away. Layla said he had serious underlying medical conditions.

While she mourned the loss of her grandfather, she reached out to her Canutillo Middle School physical education coach who taught her CPR.

Sharon Norris said Layla contacted her via Facebook and thanked her, recalling the terrifying moments she overcame.

"That shows how you make a difference in the classroom," Norris said as she was overcome with emotion.

"As a teacher, I'm just doing what I thought was important and a life lesson for the kids."

Norris said she has been teaching her students hands-only CPR for many years and has received grants from the American Heart Association to continue those lessons.

The American Heart Association will honor Layla Friday night during halftime of the El Paso Rhinos hockey game.

The game begins at 7:30pm at the El Paso County Coliseum Events Center at 4100 Paisano Dr.

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