By Tamas Mondovics

More than 600 Burns Middle School seventh and eighth grade students had an opportunity to learn or refresh their CPR skills last month thanks to a generous donation and support of local organizations.

According to Fire rescue spokesperson, Ronnie Rivera, the event was fueled by funds donated by South Tampa resident, Tom Morgan, and helped County Fire Rescue, the American Heart Association and Hillsborough County Public Schools to joined forces on behalf of local students.

Burns Middle School, located at 615 Brooker Rd. in Brandon, was not the first middle school in the county to receive training. Students at Buchanan and Mulrennan Middle Schools have also taken advantage of the program and the class conducted by Fire Rescue personnel.

Rivera said that the donation received will eventually train and provide kits—at the cost of $30 a piece—for 1,838 Hillsborough County middle school students. To select schools, Fire Rescue will analyze the county for areas of lower levels of bystander CPR during cardiac arrests, and select schools to receive the training in these areas.

“We are glad to have a chance to support the schools and to teach the students,” Rivera said as the first class of close to 120 students were practicing chest compressions on an inflatable mannequin, provided to each student in kits purchased and donated by Morgan for the program.

American Heart Association’s Donor Relations Vice President, Erica Maxwell, explained that the “Family & Friends CPR Anytime” kit, which each student received, also includes an instructional DVD, and helps to pass along their new knowledge.

“Our goal is to raise an army of life savers,” Maxwell said and added, “That is to save lives through CPR as well as to train families to be prepared for an emergency situation at home.”

Maxwell emphasized that once trained in CPR, middle school-aged children are more inclined than any other student age group to share what they learned with other family members.

“This program is intended to improve the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest in our communities by spreading the knowledge of CPR,” she said.

Thirteen-year-old Burns Middle School student, Coralys Aloma, confirmed the idea of savings lives while spreading the knowledge when she said that she was really glad that representatives were willing to come out and teach her and her fellow students.

“I have already had some CPR training before, but it is a great refresher course,” Aloma said. “It’s good for me. I may be able to help someone in need.”

Morgan, who donated the kits, was impressed with the students’ attentiveness and said that he was very pleased with their eagerness to participate.

“Seeing the kids pay attention and learn CPR was worth the investment,” Morgan said.

Reportedly, getting bystanders to act quickly in a cardiac arrest emergency is critical to a victim’s survival, because time is not on their side.

With that in mind, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue is at the forefront in the nation in severe heart attack (STEMI) and stroke triage and treatment.

The department also is one of only two fire rescue departments in Florida that were accepted to participate in the CARES Registry, a project of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association and Emory University to monitor cardiac arrest survival and other data.

For more information about the program may contact Ronnie Rivera at 272-6600 or visit


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