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HOSA Students Provide Valentine’s Day Focus on Heart Health

Marissa Maikell Falcon HOSA-Future Health Professionals offered a community health event Feb 14 at Falcon High School in District 49.

The student-led Valentine’s Day activities, called “Pump It Up Falcon,” provided a daytime focus on healthy hearts, prior to the evening’s metaphorical view of it as the originator of romance, according to 12th-grader Melanie Finley, president of the Falcon HOSA-Future Health Professionals.

“We wanted to tie it in with the whole heart idea,” said Finley, 18, surrounded by local healthcare partners, like Falcon Family Eye Care, Meridian Dental and Peak Gymnastics and Fitness. “It’s a family day. We’re doing it from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so it’s something for our community to do before date night.”

Students from the Falcon HOSA-Future Health Professionals partnered with Meridith Jensen, a dispatcher and trainer for the El Paso Teller County E-911 Authority. She arrived to demonstrate hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques.

Jensen is known for her composure during emergency calls, as well as her public education initiatives. She earned national-level dispatcher of the year recognition in 2010 from the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

Meridith Jensen A former health assistant at Stetson Elementary School, Jensen says it was a fourth-grader who fell from heart failure that changed her life. Despite her administering CPR and coordinating with 911, the 10-year-old child died. Jensen wanted to turn the tragic experience into something positive for her community.

“It sparked a passion in me,” said Jensen, recalling the 911 call. “I was so impressed by the person who answered the phone—calm, good instructions.” She resigned from the elementary school and completed emergency dispatcher training, and started looking for ways to provide public training that would save lives.

“Cardiac arrest affects more than 400,000 people every year in the United States,” she said.

“It’s the leading cause of death in the United States. Because roughly 80 percent of them happen outside a hospital setting, it’s important for bystanders to jump in and do something. It could happen at home, or in a school or somewhere in public.”

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, emergency medical services professionals report that nine out of 10 victims of out-of-hospital, non-traumatic sudden cardiac arrest die each year. However, when bystanders intervene before EMS arrives, four out of 10 victims survive.

Eleventh-grader Marissa Maikell, 17, attended Jensen’s training. As someone who’s witnessed a person’s quick reaction to someone who became unresponsive while choking, she understood its importance. She’s enrolled in the high school’s Academy of Health Sciences, and plans to become a nurse or paramedic.

Savannah Church “The academy was definitely the best thing that could have happened to me in high school,” said alumna Savannah Church, while participating in the event’s blood donation drive. While attending Falcon High School, she received the training needed to become a certified nursing assistant.

Church is now preparing for a nursing program at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, while working as a CNA for Penrose Hospital Main’s rehabilitation unit. She frequently visits the academy’s program coordinator, Connie Micheals-Lipp, and its students.

Church says the school pride today is amazing, and the academy is continuing to offer an outstanding curriculum as it expands.

“The academy put me on the right track with what I want to do with my life. Before it, I had no idea.”
Dustin Senger