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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Rojelio Cervantes, right, and Jario Rodriguez perform CPR on dummies as they follow along with an instructional video at Mira Monte High School. Students got both CPR and defibrillator training during the classes.

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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Dr. Vinod Kumar gets Mira Monte students dancing after they completed the CPR class at the school.

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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Mira Monte students learned the importance of CPR and received actual instruction on dummies like this.

Call 9-1-1, and push hard and fast.

Cardiologist Dr. Vinod Kumar and other local health officials hope high school students here can remember those two things if someone around them collapses. They aim to visit Kern High School District campuses to informally train at least 20,000 students on the basics of CPR.

On Wednesday, Kumar and gang visited one of their first schools, Mira Monte High, where freshmen and sophomores in PE classes learned how to chest compress, among other things.

"The most important thing is awareness," Kumar said. "This will take the fear out of them."

Joining Kumar were representatives from the American Heart Association (Kumar is president of the Kern County chapter), Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association and others in the health community, as well as Mira Monte staff.

About 80 boys during first period Wednesday sat on the gymnasium floor, watched a training video, and took turns practicing proper CPR form on dummies.

"It's important to learn this stuff I think," said Carlos Picasso, a freshman. "Saving someone's life -- there's nothing more important."

For many students, it was their first lesson in CPR. Some KHSD health teachers discuss CPR, but don't give formal training. Some Regional Occupational Program students get certified, as do coaches and security officers.

Corrine Ruiz, president of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association Kern County chapter, said if a student were to collapse at school, another student could step in while paramedics arrived.

Ruiz lost her 14-year-old daughter to sudden cardiac arrest. It's been her mission since to get automatic external defibrillators -- potentially life saving devices -- inside local schools. But those efforts have been hampered by school district concerns over liability risk.

The CPR trainings, she said, also help.

"You can save a life just by doing the compressions," Ruiz said.

Mira Monte's CPR trainings are not certified. The students receive a "certificate of participation" instead, and take home potentially life-saving knowledge, Kumar said.

If the high school training program is successful, it could expand to other heart association branches.

"This is powerful," Kumar said. "Can you imagine if we had 20,000 students here trained? What a difference they can make in the community."

Schools interested in participating should call 706-8785.