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Bailey Elementary student teaches classmates CPR

Faith Goetzke smiles as she pushes hard in the middle of the chest to teach others how to do hands-only CPR. Staff photo by Riham Feshir

When Faith Goetzke asked her classmates how many of them knew someone with a heart condition, nearly everyone in the room raised their hand.

The Bailey Elementary fifth grader decided to teach her fellow classmates how to do hands-only CPR after she learned it at a Girl Scout meeting. Her efforts contributed to the Take Heart Woodbury campaign aiming to teach thousands of residents the life-saving technique.

The training was held Thursday in Theresa Campbell's class, where about 50 kids learned the technique from Faith in two separate sessions.

Campbell had all three of the Goetzke kids in her class, including Faith's brother Kevin, who died suddenly of cardiac arrest four years ago at the age of 9.

He was playing tag with his sisters, his mother Laura Goetzke said.

"And he died while they were trying to get him to the hospital," she added.

Although Faith didn't share her personal story about her brother's death, she said it's important that everyone learn CPR because it can save a life.

She said she likes the idea of other kids learning something easier than having to do the full mouth-to-mouth CPR.

In addition to leading the training session with help from EMT/firefighter Angela Kain, who's one of the leading trainers in the Take Heart Woodbury campaign, Faith invited Norm Okerstrom to talk about his personal experience.

"Sudden cardiac arrest just doesn't happen to older people," he told a number of fifth graders, adding that his son was only 16 at the time he collapsed when his heart stopped.

Luckily, he said, his son survived and is now able to celebrate a "re-birthday."

Okerstrom talked about the importance of the quick response his son had when his football coach used an automated external defibrillator (AED) on him after he collapsed.

"He survived because of that fast action and people knowing what to do," Okerstrom said.

The Take Heart Woodbury campaign kicked off in February and so far 1,500 residents have been trained in hands-only CPR, Kain said.

"The first thousand were the hardest," she said, but as more people learned about the city's efforts to train 7,000, they began to express interest in learning.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.