COMPTON, CA-Kenny Landreaux wrapped up his major league baseball career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, spending seven of his 11 big-league seasons with the Boys in Blue. By all accounts, Landreaux is a Dodger at heart, even though he began his professional baseball career with the California Angels (now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).
He’s also a hometown product who hit it big and saw his dream of playing in the major leagues come true. He became an All-Star. He’s a world champion. These days, Landreaux can be seen handing out batting tips as an instructor and coordinator over at Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton. In case you didn’t know, Compton is home for Landreaux.
Compton is the city Landreaux hails from. It’s where he became a prep baseball phenom while starring at Dominguez High School. Landreaux recently came back to his old stomping grounds to assist the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LDF), American Heart Association (AMA), Compton Unified School District Police Department (CUSDPD) and the Compton Unified School District (CUSD) launch an initiative geared towards saving lives.
The big deal? High school students getting an education within CUSD will have an opportunity to add another program of learning to their already busy schedules: CPR training. The school district officially kicked off a hands-only CPR training program in early February that will eventually reach more than 6,000 of its students.
“I think it would be a real humanitarian thing for people everywhere to have some kind of education in how to do CPR,” said Landreaux, who won a championship with the Dodgers in 1981. “You never know when somebody around you is actually going to need the help. I think it would really be beneficial just for us as humans.”
Why CPR training? Well, it has been recorded that 70 percent of all cardiac arrests take place at home or a place where family and friends gather. Those numbers suggest that the people likely to assist those individuals would be family members or friends. LDF, armed with a $15,000 grant, partnered with AMA, CUSD, and CUSDPD, to begin equipping young people on the method of saving a life through the hands-only CPR training.
“This is a phenomenal idea and another historical partnership,” Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees President Micah Ali said. “I’m very grateful to the American Heart Association and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation as we endeavor to train six thousand students in the Compton community and the importance of CPR. We’re talking about a life or death matter for many families who either might not have access to healthcare and or having to wait for the ambulance to arrive. Why not allow our students to jump into action and be true superheroes?”
The launch of the program took place in a classroom at Compton Dominguez High School where a group of students eagerly took part in the experimental wave of the hands-only CPR program. Representatives from Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, American Heart Association, as well as luminaries from the Compton Police Department and Compton Unified School District were on hand to watch students learn to go through life-saving CPR techniques.
Landreaux said the CPR program is essential for these students to learn.
“I think it’s very vital,” said Landreaux. “You never know when that kind of situation will come up. For the most part, after all the research that the American Heart Association does, and speaking with officials, a lot of times they said that CPR is the one thing that saved this person’s life, saved this person’s life, while waiting for the 911 call and the paramedics to get to them.”
CUSD got a jump on a lot of schools in the implementation of the hands-only CPR training. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law bill AB 1719 in 2016, mandating that all high school students be equipped with CPR training. The law goes into effect beginning this fall when the 2018-2019 school year starts.
“This is the first school district that we’re fully rolling out the CPR program, and it falls in line Gov. (Jerry) Brown signing into law AB 1719, which is mandating CPR training as a high school graduation requirement,” said American Heart Association Affiliate Development Officer Shawn Casey. “It goes into effect in the next school year. The (LA) Dodgers Foundation’s gift that will provide the curriculum materials, is a great first step to launch this initiative throughout LA County.”
Casey said one key factor in launching the program is that Los Angeles is way behind the national average in survival rate statistics as it relates to saving the lives of individuals with cardiac arrest.
“Right now, on average, our survival rate in Los Angeles is under the national average,” Casey said. “Survival from cardiac arrest is only about six percent. In other cities that have rolled out citywide training, their survival rates have up to as high as 40 percent. So, creating tri-standards, people who will respond to someone who has fallen and doesn’t get up and is unresponsive, and just simply learning the 100 beats per minute, compressions a minute, it will save lives, thousands of lives here in Los Angeles.”
Nichol Whiteman, executive director of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, said the partnership forged between the LDF and the other involved entities, is something to look forward to in regard to this project.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be in partnership with life-saving organizations like the American Heart Association and the Compton Police Department,” Whiteman said. “We like to meet kids where they’re at, and coming to an event in a school, not only launching the event but supporting a program that is in school is so important us.”