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Jefferson Award Winner Honors Son With Life-Saving Lessons

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Jefferson Award winner Monique Bradely. (CBS)

Jefferson Award winner Monique Bradely. (CBS)

MARTINEZ (CBS 5) – Do you know what to do if someone collapses with heart trouble? This week’s Jefferson Award winner has made it her mission to teach thousands of children what to do in that situation, so they can save a life.

Monique Bradley bent forward to make sure the middle schoolers sitting cross-legged in front of her were listening.

“You are the first responder,” she said pointedly. “You are that person’s lifeline.”

Her message comes from her heart.

“I want them to know that if anyone collapses, it is your duty to save their lives,” she explained later.

Bradley’s lesson stems from tragedy. Her 15-year-old son Darius Jones collapsed playing competitive basketball in 2009. When it happened, everyone froze.

“I froze. I know CPR… I thought I did!” Bradley remembered of that terrible day. “But I hadn’t practiced it, or used it. When it happens to someone you love, it goes out the window.”

Bradley says Darius was one of 7,000 young people nationwide who die when their hearts suddenly stop. Many cardiac arrest cases, like his, come from undiagnosed conditions.

In her son’s honor, she founded the Darius Jones Foundation in 2010. The Pittsburg-based nonprofit teaches East Bay students hands-only CPR.

“It has become my life’s mission, my purpose,” she said.

Pam Dodson of Contra Costa County Emergency Medical Services leads the CPR class with Bradley’s help.

On an autumn afternoon, they were teaching sixth through eighth graders at St. Catherine of Siena School in Martinez, where Darius graduated. The youngsters bent over CPR dummies, compressing the chests to the rhythm of Dodson’s clapping.

She’s such an inspiration,” Dodson said of Bradley. “She’s taken this and inspired us to do more.”

Bradley’s nonprofit also donates Automated External Defibrillators to save kids’ lives. When a person has sudden cardiac arrest, the portable AED analyzes the heart rhythm, and gives the user instructions to administer electric shock to restore normal heart rhythm. In the last three years in Contra Costa County, when a lay person has used the AED, the survival rate has been 53 percent.

Bradley has donated more than 30 AED’s to East Bay schools. Each one costs more than $1,200, paid for through fundraisers and by American Medical Response ambulance service.

Students like Bryan Binayas take the training to heart.

“If there’s someone that needs my help, I can help them,” the eighth grader said confidently.

It’s Darius’ legacy.

“I taught him always to do the right thing and this is the right thing,” Bradley said, a single tear escaping her eye. “Our children are our future.”

So for educating and equipping East Bay children to save victims of sudden cardiac arrest, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Monique Bradley.

The Darius Jones Foundation is in need of volunteers and sponsors. If you can help, connect with them using this link.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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