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Life-saving skills

Councilman Bobby Henon continues hands-only CPR trainings in district for youth.

A hands-on situation: Students at Saint George School in Port Richmond participate in a hands-only CPR training offered by Councilman Bobby Henon’s office as part of his Act Now program.

By Melissa Komar

Imagine you’re at a baseball practice and you witness your son, brother or friend suddenly collapse, and you can do nothing else but stand by and rely on the skills of others.

For some, this was a reality in 2013 when Tommy “TJ” Ramos, a 9-year-old catcher with the Torresdale Boys Club collapsed and stopped breathing.

Thankfully, two off-duty police officers performed CPR on him, essentially saving his life.

That event was the spark behind Councilman Bobby Henon’s Act Now Program, which was launched in May 2018.

The free program aims to equip Philadelphia citizens with the skills necessary to safely and effectively react to potentially life-threatening situations.

Act Now brings together several skills to offer different trainings to all different populations, including CPR/AED certification, Stop the Bleed, overdose reversal and mental health first aid.

One of the populations in the 6th District Henon is specifically targeting is the youth.

When Henon launched the program in May at Abraham Lincoln High School, more than 100 students participated in hands-only CPR training and AED demonstrations, according to Meghan Petroski, program coordinator.

Those 100 students led to hundreds more.

“Our goal is to have every school, recreation center and youth sports team in our 6th District sign up to participate in our CPR/AED (Act Now) initiative,” Petroski said.

More specifically, Henon hopes to offer CPR trainings and AED demonstrations to every fifth- through eighth-grader in the 6th District; train 1,000 Northeast residents on proper CPR/AED use, overdose reversal and Stop the Bleed; update, or install, AEDs and Stop the Bleed kits in every school, recreation center and in publicly accessible locations; and offer CPR trainings and AED/Stop the Bleed demonstrations to all members of every youth sports team in the 6th District, according to Petroski.

Students in fifth through eighth grade at Saint George School in Port Richmond participated in the initiative last January.

After the approximately hour-long program, students walked away with basic, but potentially life-saving knowledge, according to principal Rebecca Kutterbach.

“Our students returned from the program talking about what they had learned and how they felt confident if they ever came across a situation that involved CPR,” she said.

Saint George students aren’t the only ones now equipped to handle a potentially life-threatening situation.

So far, 18 schools and recreation centers have participated and more than 2,000 students have completed the training, according to Petroski.

Instructors for the CPR hands-only trainings range from the Philadelphia Fire Department, to the Philadelphia Mobile CPR Project, to even Councilman Henon and members of his staff.

The Activities Fund Grant to the Philadelphia Fire Foundation and a partnership with the Philadelphia Mobile CPR Project cover the costs associated with the trainings.

And, while the hands-only trainings and AED demonstrations offered to youth throughout the district don’t result in certification, it’s the skills themselves that are the focus.

“It’s important for our youth in the community to have these life-saving skills. These skills can save lives and ensure that they each have the confidence to react when those they love are experiencing a health emergency,” Henon said.

The next hands-only CPR training and AED demonstration for youth in the River Wards will be held at Bridesburg School, 2824 Jenks St., on Thursday, March 7. To sign up for Act Now trainings, visit

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