Protect and Serve--unless it requires CPR. That seems to be the motto that has become acceptable within the NYPD. Now a family is in mourning and an 11 year old girl dead after an officer, a public servant, told her mother "I don't do CPR."
Eleven year old Briana Ojeda was playing with her mother at a park when she had an asthma attack. Believing she could get her daughter to the hospital faster than EMS could get to her, Carmen Ojeda rushed through traffic, at one point turning the wrong way and hitting a parked car.
She flagged down the police, telling the officer "My daughter needs CPR!", to which he allegedly smirked and responded "I don't do CPR".After initially boxing the Ojedas in with his car, the officer finally decided to let them pass. But, it would be too late. Eleven year old Briana, who had hopes of one day being a lawyer, would die.
NYPD trainees are certified in CPR at the academy. After that, however, their certification doesn't seem to be tracked. Some sources state the officers recertify when their initial period lapses (after two years). Others report that there is no requirement for recertification and that cops are simply reminded when their expiration is coming up, though not being directed to renew. This must be changed.
Officer Alonso Mendez of the 84th Precinct did not report the incident with Briana Ojeda to his superiors and has been suspended. He did follow Carmen to the hospital and tore up her citation when he learned of the girl's death. But, could her death have been prevented if Mendez had elected to help--if his CPR certification was good and his knowledge of procedures up to par?
As public servants the police are tasked with keeping our streets safe, a pretty major feat. But they are often called on in emergency medical situations or simply in the right place at the right time to assist someone in medical distress. Sometimes the police arrive at a scene long before EMS does. In situations like these, shouldn't they be able to render assistance when someone's life may depend on it? A nine hour course offered by the New York Red Cross is required for flight attendants and lifeguards--why isn't it required for the police?
CPR procedures often change slightly from year to year and unless you have the need to use it on a regular basis, they are easily forgotten. Yearly recertification should be mandated and tracked by the NYPD. This is a simple solution with the potential to save lives. For those officers who say their reluctance is due to a lack of protective gear, all patrol units should be required to have mouthguards to allow CPR without the risk of infection or disease. Again, a simple solution with a potentially huge impact.
Join us at Change.org in urging the City of New York to make these necessary changes. Mandated annual certification and proper CPR gear comes at a little cost when compared with the value of a young child's life.
Photo Courtesy: Ojeda family
There seems to be little regulation on the recertification of officers once they leave the academy. This must change. When lifeguards and flight attendants are required to have updated certification every year, the police must too. Because NYPD units are often first on the scene and because they are the epitome of public service, they too should be required to keep up their CPR certifications.
It is my hope that a child like Briana Ojeda never again be denied CPR treatment from a member of the NYPD. For this reason I ask that measures be put in place requiring the annual recertification of all officers. CPR certification must be tracked by the NYPD to ensure all officers have up to date credentials in this regard. Also, because officer safety is of upmost importance too, that all patrol units and police vehicles be required to carry mouthguards and protective CPR gear, leaving no excuse for the denial of these lifesaving acts.
It shouldn't take the death of a child for shortfalls like this to come to light. While nothing can change what happened on that day in Brooklyn, the city can use the incident to ensure it never happens again. Please do what's necessary to make these seemingly simple changes--changes that have the potential to make a huge impact.