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Gwyneth Griffin was a student
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BY KATIE THISDELL
A Stafford couple hopes to convince state legislators that CPR training for teachers could save lives.
Joel and Jennifer Griffin lost their eldest daughter, Gwyneth, last summer after her heart stopped one day at school. She didn't get CPR or emergency first-aid until rescue-squad crews arrived, nearly 10 minutes after she collapsed.
Gwyneth's Law could require CPR training for teachers, bus drivers and high school graduates, ensuring faster and better responses to situations like this.
"I do think it's critical for our schools and for our community," Joel Griffin said. "I believe the reason it has gotten moved forward so quickly is that it is an oversight that we should have corrected years ago."
Local legislators Del. Mark Dudenhefer, R-Stafford, and Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, introduced the bill in this year's General Assembly session. The Griffins lobbied a House subcommittee this past week.
Monday, the bill will be heard in the Senate's public education subcommittee. Griffin encourages supporters to attend, wearing pink, Gwyneth's favorite color.
Gwyneth had been born with a heart murmur but was otherwise healthy and active. She was running with her classmates around the track at A.G. Wright Middle School on June 8, just before the start of summer vacation, when she collapsed, not breathing. After spending nearly two months at VCU Medical Center, Gwyneth died at the end of July, just a month after her 13th birthday.
Schoolteachers and staff are often the first responders in all sorts of emergencies.
Dudenhefer said with all the talk about school safety, it's more likely that medical emergencies like Gwyneth's endanger more students than the acts of violence that often garner headlines.
"This will help kids right away," said Dudenhefer, who used to be a county supervisor in the Griffins' Garrisonville District in North Stafford. "It uncovered some gaps in the way we provide a safety net for our kids at school."
The sooner someone undergoing cardiac arrest receives CPR, the greater the person's chance of survival.
Current Virginia code calls for two people to be certified in first-aid and CPR every two years in each public school building.