Stafford family wants school staff trained in CPR

Joel and Jennifer Griffin of Stafford County say the death of their 12-year-old daughter has uncovered a major problem in the school system.

The Griffins say their daughter, Gwyneth, didn't receive CPR for 10 minutes after she collapsed at school. They add a teacher called 911 but did not administer the life-saving technique. They wonder whether their child would be alive today if she had.

"That is a question I have to live with every day, but no one did so how will I ever know?," Jennifer asked.

Joel added, "If one person had been trained to respond, would that have made the difference?"

On June 8, Gwyneth, who was born with a heart valve problem that was checked regularly, collapsed after a single lap around the track at A.G. Wright Middle School.

The 12-year-old's classmates ran to get her father who happened to be visiting the school that day for their younger daughter's field day. He raced to the track, finding his daughter on the ground - pale, unresponsive and without a pulse.

"He said he arrived, and there was no one by my daughter's side," Jennifer recalled.

Joel said he administered CPR and got his daughter's pulse back. One month later, doctors were able to fix her heart and lungs; she was taken off of life support.

But then the Griffins received terrible news. An MRI showed the loss of oxygen to her brain during those first critical minutes caused devastating trauma to her brain.

Her parents say Gwyneth had "no cognitive ability to speak" and was also completely blind. They say the brain injury eventually caused her death two months later.

Now, they want the county to provide routine, mandatory CPR training and certification for every single Stafford County School staff member, including cafeteria staff, bus drivers, teachers and administrators.

Right now, the state requires that two staff members at every school in the Commonwealth be trained in CPR and defibrillator use. Currently, five staffers at every school in Stafford County are trained, but the Griffins want everyone to be trained.

The school system says they are looking forward to reading the Griffins' proposal and working with the family in this effort.