Students practice CPR during week-long event at Great Oak High School

Video by Chauncy Miller & JP Raineri


Hundreds of Great Oak High School students lined up each day from 12 to 1 p.m. to learn basic CPR skills during a one week event from February 3-7 that was facilitated by the school’s brand new CPR club.

The “Sidewalk CPR Event” was attended by two different fire agencies as well as officials from Inland Valley Medical Center who helped students practice proper compression techniques on dummies, according to CPR club parent Dawnelle Anderson.

Anderson is the mother of 14-year-old high school freshman Dawson Anderson, who founded the club along with three other friends (Jake Gambino, Brenden Jensen, and Jayson Palmer) after he became inspired to learn CPR.

During a summer trip not long before the start of the school year, Dawson witnessed his mother save one of his friend’s lives.

The friend had gone along with the Andersons and appeared to be fairing well when his heart unexpectedly stopped. Dawnelle immediately turned to her experience as a staff member at Inland Valley Medical Center and performed CPR, saving the friend’s life.

It was that kind of quick-thinking that inspired Dawson not to necessarily start a club, but rather just to learn how to perform CPR himself in the chance that he might be in a similar situation.

One thing led to another and Dawnelle, who said she sensed Dawson’s enthusiasm, encouraged Dawson and his friends to start a club so that many students could learn a skill proven to be useful in emergency situations.

A group of parents along with Activities Director Don Skaggs, who has served as the club’s

advisor, helped to build the club and plan for its various events since it was started approximately four weeks ago.

Anderson said that people like Skaggs and other parents involved with the club have been instrumental in planning events and making meetings happen, but the kids themselves have also been extremely dedicated.

“They would give up their lunch break and come and meet during lunch and they would also talk about it after school because the four boys who started the club are also best friends,” she said. “So I would definitely say several hours have been put in over the course of the past month.”

The event may have taught students an important skill to have in their lives but it was also intended to be a fun experience, according to 14-year-old Dawson. He said the event attempted to reward students who successfully learned basic CPR skills by giving them “CP-R U Ready?” wristbands to mark their success in completing the basic exercise.

Students who completed the CPR event could also kick back and relax with a cool treat from Kona Ice Temecula, which was giving out shaved ice to the students.

The high school freshman said he was pleasantly surprised by the reaction he got from students who learned CPR.

“I was actually very surprised,” he said. “There were lots of kids coming down even before we even asked them to come. There were tons and tons of kids.”

Anderson said he believed a big part of the reason many students came to learn CPR compressions was just so they could get a Kona Ice, but that that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because they would at least take away some skills that would help them if they found themselves in a situation where someone needed that kind of help.

“They could come over and do their CPR and then get their Kona Ice, which is what they wanted,” he said. “But then if they were ever in that situation they could say, ‘Oh wait, I remember. I learned

CPR. I know how to do it a little bit.’”

Dawnelle Anderson said the boys are excited about continuing the CPR club over the course of the next few years and that the next step they want to pursue is CPR certification so that they can become instructors who can in turn certify other students.

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