Kalihi drowning highlights importance of CPR, no matter what age

We’re learning more about the nine-year-old boy who died Wednesday after being pulled from Kalihi Stream.

On Thursday, the Honolulu medical examiner said Mike Grdosic drowned.

Officials say he was with a group of friends, playing or trying to cross the stream. The area was remote enough that it took emergency crews a while to reach him.

The Honolulu Fire Department shared the following timeline:

3:19 p.m.: 911 call made
3:45 p.m.: Firefighters reach the boy, administer CPR
3:58 p.m.: Transfer care to EMS

“(They were) young boys, only nine years old, and they didn’t know CPR and that’s a young age, many don’t know that then and that’s the unfortunate part of this because it did take a while for this child to start getting medical treatment,” Shayne Enright, Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The boy’s death is raising awareness of a critical life-saving technique: cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR.

It’s something many adults know, but what about children?

Instructors KHON2 spoke with say you don’t have to be certified to perform CPR, and you can never be too young to learn how to save someone’s life.

“We hear stories all the time of kids helping their parents or their grandparents pass out and call 911 and start doing CPR,” said Chico Caballero, CPR instructor at Kapiolani Community College.

“The kids at Chaminade University took a class and six months later they saved his life,” said Pamela Foster, president of AED Institute of America, who is also a part of the Hawaii Heart Foundation, as she showed picture after picture of people’s lives who had been saved.

The first thing to do is call for help. Then start chest compressions, even if you’re not sure exactly how to do them.

“When somebody collapses, whether it’s from drowning or cardiac arrest or heart attack, the simple thing is we need to get that heart pumping and you can’t hurt anyone with chest compressions. All you can do is make it better,” Foster said.

Experts say it only takes between four and six minutes before the brain and heart start shutting down, which is why time is crucial.

Foster says Hawaii Heart Foundation is pushing to educate more children on the technique.

“Schools have become a passion of Hawaii Heart and getting in there and teaching kids and making sure they know what to do,” said Foster. “That’s what the foundation was launched on. It was teaching these kids how to do this. If they learn, because it’s such a simple skill today, they will keep it for a lifetime.”

There is some debate over whether CPR classes for children should be required.

“It is being pushed through the legislature that every kid will know CPR before they graduate and the reason is the survival rates are low because nobody does CPR,” said Foster.

As the saying goes, knowledge is power and in this case that knowledge can save lives.

“The more they do, the faster they do, the better that the patient will have a successful outcome,” said Caballero.

If you would like to learn more about children learning CPR or sign up your children for classes, contact the Hawaii Heart Foundation.

Kapiolani Community College offers the following CPR-related classes: Heartsaver First Aid and CPR Healthcare Provider.

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