Brownsville (TX) steps out for emergency training – JEMS: EMS, Emergency Medical Services

Image/Brownsville Fire Department

Denise Cathey

The Brownsville Herald, Texas


A fire truck with its ladder extended skyward greets visitors to the Brownsville Events Center Saturday for the 2nd annual Save a Life event.

This free 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. event offered non-certified manual CPR training as well as Stop The Bleed training for residents of all ages.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) uses chest compressions, which help keep oxygen circulating in your blood. CPR can be an effective tool to keep someone alive until EMS arrives if someone stops breathing or goes into cardiac arrest.

As with many things in life, the need to educate the public about these life-saving techniques grew out of a near-tragedy suffered by local lawyer Javier Villarreal.

In July 2021, Villarreal had to perform CPR on their son Javier when he nearly drowned in a swimming pool. His son is fine now, but at that point Villarreal went three minutes unsure if he would make it. Her CPR training helped ensure her son’s survival.

“I think God sends messages to you in different ways. So what my wife, Cynthia, and I decided to do is we were going to turn this horrible event where we ended up having to resuscitate it and make it a community event,” he said.

In partnership with the Brownsville Fire Department and Valley Baptist Health System, Villarreal has created an event where people of all ages can come and learn how to administer lifesaving techniques that help keep someone alive until death. help arrives.

At the event, participants learn a simple version of CPR in just a few steps.

According to firefighter and paramedic Erick Hernandez, the first step is to check if the person is responsive. If they don’t respond, call 911 and, while the dispatcher receives information from you, begin CPR.

For an adult, you take the palm of your hand and place it in the middle of their chest, directly in the center of their nipple line. Grab your palm with your other hand, and while locking your elbows and bending from the waist down, use your body weight to push hard and fast. He recommends doing it to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees or “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong.

For babies, you modify the technique by using just two fingers.

If the person is in bed and you can’t put them on the floor, Hernandez recommended placing a cutting board just below their shoulder blades to give you a firm surface under the person.

The training is for families, not just adults, for an important reason, says Chief Medical Officer Jose Ayala of Valley Baptist Medical Center – Brownsville, because statistically that’s who’s likely to be there.

“This is a family event because most of the time when someone breaks down at home – you, your wife, your grandmother or your grandfather – the very first on the scene will be this child,” Ayala said.

The shadow of the recent shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde casts a palpable shadow over the event as parents lead their children to huddle around Stop the Bleed instructors like Lt. Marco Paniagua of the Fire Department of Brownsville.

Using fellow firefighters and attendees to help demonstrate proper techniques for gunshot and stab wounds, Paniagua applies tourniquets, wraps wounds with cotton and administers chest seals for gunshot wounds to the torso.

With a tourniquet firmly tied around his own leg, he warns attendees that in the event of a school shooting, they must throw away everything they’ve seen in the movies about tourniquets and immobilization.

He hobbles around the circle, slowly at first then quickening to show that, although painful, you can still move quickly out of harm’s way with a tourniquet.

“Just because you’re injured doesn’t mean you’re disabled,” he said.

Paniagua stressed that in these situations, your mentality should be to do what you need to survive, keep moving and stay alive.

Accompanied by her husband Matteo and 10-year-old son Octavian, Grade 7 teacher Susana Pablo from CISD Los Fresnos pays close attention to Paniagua’s demonstration alongside those of CPR.

“It is a pity that schools do not actively show us how to do this. I’ve been teaching for 16 years – nobody ever taught me to do this,” Pablo said.

“I hope I can stay calm when the time comes, but at least now I know what to do,” she said.

For more information or to find CPR certification courses, you can visit the American Heart Association website Stop The Bleed information and courses are available at

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