Sixteen-year-old Jesus Yanez doesn’t think of himself as a hero, but that’s the role he found himself in when he saved another student’s life at Mesa’s Westwood High School.
Yanez, a junior in the medical assistant program at the East Valley Institute of Technology, used the CPR skills he learned at EVIT. It was the first time Yanez, who plans to become a registered nurse, had performed CPR on another person.
“I had to help him, so I did what I knew,” Yanez said.
Yanez attends EVIT in the morning and Westwood in the afternoon. On a Monday in early February, he was walking to his bus at Westwood when he heard a group of girls gasp and then saw a male student lying face-down on the ground and twitching.
He realized the boy was having a seizure and rushed over, putting the student in a recovery position. Then he started CPR compressions, and a friend came over to help as well. Yanez told the gathering crowd of students to give him room and to call 911.
School security and firefighters arrived to take over.
Students in EVIT’s medical assistant program learn to perform administrative and clinical skills in a number of settings such as doctors’ offices, hospitals and clinics. In addition to CPR and first aid, they learn medical terminology, body systems, optometry, EKG, phlebotomy, autoclave, federal safety standards, and other medical specialties. They also develop an understanding of patient billing, medical records, purchasing supplies, filing insurance claims and other office procedures.
The four-semester program prepares graduates to take the exam for Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA). Yanez plans to take additional college courses to become an RN. He’s grateful for the jump-start that EVIT is giving him —and very humble about the life-saving actions he performed this week at Westwood.
“I’ve learned a lot of things I never thought I would learn,” he said. “People can say I’m a hero, but I’m just a normal human being.”
Michael Cowan, superintendent of Mesa Public Schools, praised the actions of Yanez and other Westwood students who have come to the aid of ailing classmates before.
“Our students genuinely care for each other and look out for each other,” Cowan said. “That manifested in this incident and in their day-to-day experiences with each other.”
EVIT is a career and technical high school providing education and training in about 40 occupational programs. For more information about EVIT’s medical assistant program, visit www.evit.com/medassist.
For more information about Westwood High School, visit www.mpsaz.org/westwood.
CeCe Todd is a public information officer for the East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa and a former journalist covering education issues in Arizona.