Students receive training on CPR, automated defibrillators
September 16, 2019
Tanya Cruz-Flores is driven by a wrenching desire. “I don’t want any parent to go through what I went through,” she said. She has lived through a parent’s worst nightmare — coming home to find her son, Cristian Acosta-Flores, dead from an undiagnosed enlarged heart. Cristian’s life was cut tragically short on Sept. 1, 2014, one day shy of his 19th birthday. Cruz-Flores and her husband Memo have turned their grief into action by launching Cristian’s Big Heart, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of youth heart ailments while also raising funds for prevention measures such as heart screenings for teens and the purchase of Automated External Defibrillators for local schools. The couple were on hand recently for a special assembly at EastLake Elementary. Guided by experts from San Diego Project Heartbeat, fifth-grade students demonstrated how to conduct hands-only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and use the life-saving AEDs. As students learned, AEDs are the only way to restart a heart in cardiac arrest, and the latest devices are simple to use. The event was billed as “A Great Day to Save a Life.”  It was easy to see why. The students learned to serve as the bridge until emergency responders arrive when someone suffers heart-related issues. Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading “silent killer” of our nation’s youth. A multi-faceted partnership is determined to combat such deaths in the South County. Schools in the Chula Vista Elementary School District and the Sweetwater Union High School District are receiving dozens of replacement AED units for use at their respective schools. Support for these life-saving devices came from the County of San Diego’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program at the recommendation of County Supervisor Greg Cox. Additional AEDs were donated by the Eric Paredes Save-A-Life Foundation, and Cristian’s Big Heart organization. The “CPR Anytime” kits that EastLake is providing to students thanks to the generosity of the American Heart Association. Cristian grew up in the community, attending CVESD elementary schools, and SUHSD middle and high schools. He had deep family ties to the education community. His grandfather is a former CVESD assistant superintendent of Human Resources, his grandmother is a retired CVESD principal, and his aunt is superintendent in SUHSD. Cristian’s Big Heart organization has grown to champion heart screenings along with the Eric Paredes Save-A-Life Foundation — also founded by parents of a teen who died unexpectedly from an undiagnosed heart condition. In addition to heart screenings, the two organizations teamed with Project Heartbeat to ensure the devices are in place at all area schools. “I want to honor his life. I want to keep a legacy going,” Cruz-Flores said. “I don’t want any other parent to open the door and find their child passed away.”
Fifth grade students demonstrate CPR.
Guided by experts from San Diego Project Heartbeat, fifth-grade students at EastLake Elementary demonstrated how to conduct hands-only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and use life-saving AED devices.

© 2019 Association of California School Administrators