By California Safe Corps AmeriCorps member, Jazmine Cureno
I am one of the California Safe Corps AmeriCorps team members serving the Los Angeles Region and I currently work out of the American Red Cross Long Beach chapter. One of my duties is to teach free CPR classes to vulnerable communities throughout the Los Angeles Region. I teach around two classes per month and most of the classes I teach are instructed in Spanish. On November 19, 2016, my colleague, Kristyan Cortez, and I taught a CPR class that would become unlike any other. The class resulted in a real-life hero!
On Thanksgiving Day, just five days after becoming certified at our CPR class, Cuauhtémoc Blancas performed CPR on his best friend and co-worker, Ascencion (Chon) Castio, and saved his life! Here’s what happened:
Chon unintentionally inhaled sand and fell unconscious while working on a construction site. Cuauhtémoc, who was also working on the same construction site, ran over to his best friend, just as he took his last gasp for air. At that moment, Cuauhtémoc’s recent CPR training kicked in and he knew exactly what to do. He checked for breathing by opening Chon’s airway and placing his ear close to his mouth. He realized there were no signs of life and immediately called out to co-workers, “Call 911!” Cuauhtémoc then proceeded to perform CPR compressions on Chon’s chest. After three minutes of being unconscious and unresponsive, Chon finally started to cough. Again, knowing exactly what to do, Cuauhtémoc turned Chon over on his side to facilitate his ability to continue to cough. At this time, the paramedics arrived, took over Chon’s care, and brought him to a nearby hospital. Thanks to Cuauhtémoc’s ability to effectively administer CPR, Chon was able to go home from the hospital that very same day!
After hearing about this life-changing story, I decided to nominate Cuauhtémoc for the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region Hometown Heroes Award. The award recognizes local heroes who exemplify the mission of the American Red Cross and Cuauhtémoc definitely fit the bill! So, on Thursday, March 2, Cuauhtémoc accepted the award at the 13th annual Hometown Heroes Luncheon in Long Beach, CA. And, both Chon and I were happy to be there to help Cuauhtémoc celebrate his amazing heroic act!
This extraordinary story is proof that being informed and taking the actions necessary to help others can result in the most worthwhile reward of all. It can result in saving a life! It is also a testament to teaching free CPR classes in vulnerable communities. You just never know when or where an emergency is going to occur and EVERYONE deserves the chance to live a healthy and full life! Because of this story, I am even more honored and grateful to be a part of such an effective program. And for me, it is a true privilege to teach life-saving CPR and First Aid skills to everyday heroes like Cuauhtémoc!