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Park District Launches Community-Wide CPR Training Initiative

Jun 17, 2016 03:47PM ● Published by Steven Jack

Kristie Vest discusses the new community-wide CPR initiative during the PrairieFest Mainstage Moment Friday night. Also pictured from left are Cheryl Keilson, Darice Bohne and Ariana Castillo.

This year at PrairieFest the Oswegoland Park District has begun Main Stage Moments. The idea is that people are given the festival’s main stage to reveal life-changing news in front of thousands.

In news that didn’t disappoint, the first Main Stage Moment might be the one to change the most lives. At Friday’s Main Stage Moment, Park District Special Events Supervisor Kristie Vest announced a multi-year initiative aptly called Hero Training: Be Someone’s Heart Throb.

Through the generous financial support of $8,125.00, by the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, and the in-kind program support of the American Heart Association, the Oswegoland Park District will increase the bystander rate of CPR through PrairieFest and community events over the course of the next year.

Representatives of the American Heart Association and the Oswego Fire Protection District were on hand Friday night at PariieFest to present the American HeartSaver Hero Award to a surprised Darice Bohne and Ariana Castillo. Both award recipients are Oswego residents who stepped in to perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) which saved the life of two strangers.

In January of 2015, 16 year old Ariana Castillo was playing indoor softball when Jim Dirksen, a baseball coach collapsed at a nearby practice.

Using the information she had learned through her classes at Oswego East High School, Castillo stepped in and performed CPR until the Oswego Emergency Medical Team arrived. Jim called Friday’s Main Stage Moment, “ a wonderful and deserving honor for my favorite hometown hero”.

It was fitting that Jim was unable to attend Friday night, because thanks to Ariana, the coach and his son will be participating in a weekend baseball tournament.

Honoring Darice Bohne had a unique significance at PrairieFest. At last year’s festival, staffer Cheryl Keilson had what is called a sudden cardiac death at the main entrance. Staff was able to alert Oswego EMT on the grounds.

Bohne, a coronary intensive care nurse had been enjoying a concert when her husband convinced her to head home. She was mere feet from the main gate when she saw a crowd had gathered.

Her work, along with the Oswego Police and Fire support saved Cheryl’s life. Against all odds, Cheryl and Darice stood together on PrairieFest’s main stage Friday night.

The miraculous incident on the grounds last year proved to be a catalyst for Oswegoland Park District staff. Vest said,

“When we planned for PrairieFest 2016, we felt compelled to “pay it forward”. The truth is, education and training saved Cheryl. We want to be a part of more people being aware, educated, and trained.”

The American Heart Association reports that almost 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

The festival, and subsequent community trainings will use CPR Anytime kits, an American Heart Association program to teach CPR ‘on the fly’. Backpacks with dummy busts will be handed out for training.  Participants can take the backpacks home, and become a teacher for friends, family and other community members. Hands-only CPR training all takes place in less than 30 minutes.

After bestowing the HeartSaver Hero award on Castillo and Bohne during PrairieFest the Main Stage Moment, Mark Ziemnik, Oswegoland Park District CPR and First Aid instructor, immediately trained 25 people in lifesaving hands-only CPR from the main stage—made possible, by the generous support of the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley.

This ongoing training series “Be Someone’s Heart Throb” training sessions will take place throughout the year at various community events and is already planned for next year’s PrairieFest 2017in the First National Bank Event Tent. In fact, by May 2017, the Park District has a goal to train over 300 people.

"With Hero Training, PrairieFest will be the model in Northern Illinois of festivals who take on both celebration and significance. CPR training and awareness will have a prevailing affect in Oswego and our surrounding communities. But that is the big picture; the small picture is one life. Our efforts have the real ability to reach out far enough to save one life. The staff here at the Oswegoland Park District knows distinctly what that means to the people who love that life."

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