Texas Health Dallas Program Trains Thousands in Life-Saving Skills
04/08/2009

DALLAS — For Krista Tartoni and her 9-month old son, Beckett, a recent story time at Skillman Southwestern Branch Library was quality-time of a different kind — the stories she heard might one day save Beckett’s life.

Texas Health CPR Instructor Cassie Rawson visits with Krista Tartoni and her son, Beckett.
Texas Health CPR Instructor Cassie Rawson visits with Krista Tartoni and her son, Beckett.
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Experts from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas taught dozens of parents who regularly gather with their children for story time how to prevent choking tragedies and administer CPR. The fear of choking had been especially high for Beckett’s mom after her own brush with choking.

“Luckily, my husband was home and performed the Heimlich maneuver on me,” she said.

Choking injuries in children under age 4 are most often caused by food and occur in the home, and the majority of children treated in hospital emergency rooms for airway obstructions are 4 or younger.

“The first few minutes are crucial to saving lives,” said Jeanette Duric, R.N., M.S.N., C.C.R.N., a clinical education specialist at Texas Health Dallas. “People should remember that severe brain damage and even death can occur if a child’s breathing isn’t restored within just four minutes. Parents don’t have time to wait for emergency help to arrive before taking action.”

Parents brought their children to the class to learn correct hand placement for dislodging airway obstructions and administering CPR. Texas Health Dallas instructors Cassie Rawson and Caleb Newman demonstrated the life-saving techniques on junior and infant mannequins. Afterward, instructors provided one-on-one time with parents to answer questions and spend time with the toddlers.

“These educational demonstrations are very rewarding for me,” Rawson said, “because I know that these basic skills save lives.”

In 2008, volunteer instructors from Texas Health Dallas, including respiratory therapists, nurses, and physicians on the hospital’s medical staff, donated more than 200 hours of community service to teach CPR. The training included everything from choking prevention to proper use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Texas Health Dallas annually educates more than 2,000 people in CPR. As an official training center for the American Heart Association, Texas Health Dallas oversees education programs at 17 different sites throughout North Texas.

“If the life of just one child is saved,” Duric said, “all our work and the volunteers’ hours are more than worthwhile.”

The importance of the CPR class was not lost on Tartoni.

“With two children, I definitely want to be able to act quickly if anything happens,” she said. “But these are things everyone should know, whether they have children or not. There's no telling when someone around you will need help."

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is an 866-bed acute care hospital and recognized clinical program leader, having provided compassionate care to the residents of Dallas and surrounding communities since 1966. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Texas Health Dallas among the nation’s best hospitals in digestive disorders, orthopedics, and neurology and neurosurgery. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Dallas has approximately 4,000 employees and an active medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/PHD.