Screenings Ensure Teens Don’t Miss a Beat

By Staff Reports

(Victorville)– Several local organizations teamed up over the weekend to provide potentially life-saving heart screenings for local teens.

Desert Valley Hospital/Medical Group partnered with the Victorville Fire Department, the Victor Valley Union High School District, American Medical Response, Loma Linda University, and El Dorado Broadcasters to provide approximately 120 free EKG tests to VVUHSD students between the ages of 14 and 18 at University Preparatory School on Saturday.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in high school-age athletes, and is often caused by unknown pre-existing heart conditions. Saturday’s screenings revealed 20 abnormalities among the 120 students tested. Those with abnormal heartbeats were referred to cardiac specialists for echocardiograms at no extra charge to the families.

The target audience was student-athletes, but heart disease can strike anyone at any time, especially if there is family history of cardiac issues.

“It’s a great resource for parents,” said University Prep Principal Valerie Hatcher, who had her own son screened at the event along with many of his UP classmates. “It was a super easy diagnostic. All of the volunteers were friendly and knowledgeable, and it put my mind at ease.”

Desert Valley Hospital cardiologists Dr. George Ponce and Dr. Neel Kapasi donated their time, along with 10 other volunteer workers from Desert Valley Hospital/Medical Group. Four instructors provided by AMR trained approximately 74 people for CPR while Personnel from the Victorville Fire Departments teamed with an instructor from Loma Linda University to provide “Stop the Bleed” first aid training.

“It was great to see such a positive response from a conscientious community,” Dr. Ponce said. “The concern over our children’s health can’t be taken lightly. Our success in preventing sudden cardiac death depends on concerned parents, teachers and community health officials responding the way they did this last health fair event. We at Desert Valley are proud as physicians and a medical group to do our share in investing in our youth and our future.”

Community member Bud Green conceived of the event and enlisted help from local agencies and businesses to make it a reality. All parties involved were pleased with the turnout, and organizers would like to make it an annual event.

“This event gave local families a rare opportunity to proactively identify health risks and learn lifesaving skills with our professional first responders,” said Victorville Mayor, Gloria Garcia. “We are pleased to be a part of bringing together our community’s healthcare stakeholders to promote a healthy and strong Victorville.

Advisors for the Victorville Fire Department Explorer Post also introduced students to this new program designed to develop the next generation of firefighters to serve Victorville and the broader community. Applications for the Explorer Post will be available online and at Victorville City Hall in April.

The Victorville Fire Department regularly offers CPR and Stop the Bleed training to the public. Contact Victorville Fire at (760) 955-5233 for more information.

Anyone interested in partnering for a future heart screening event can call Marie Langley at Desert Valley Hospital, 760-241-8000, extension 8699.

The history of the Victorville Fire Department dates back to 1926 when the Victorville County Fire Protection District was established. In 1930, the Victorville Volunteer Fire Department was established. In 1976, approximately 14 years after Victorville was incorporated, control of the Victorville Fire Protection District was assumed by the City of Victorville. In March 2019, the City of Victorville re-established its Fire Department after contracting the fire services for 10 years. The Victorville Fire Department is staffed with 60 personnel, and the department is led by Fire Chief Greg Benson.

Located in Southern California at the high-point between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Victorville is the leading city for both industry and retail in the High Desert region. Victorville is a growing, vibrant community that is home to approximately 125,000 residents and some of the area’s largest employers. Clean air, abundant mountain vistas, family-friendly recreational activities, spectacular sunsets and breathtaking night skies entice locals and visitors alike to fall in love with this city that is within a few hours of SoCal beaches, National Parks, mountain retreats, and other major attractions. Ontario International Airport is less than an hour away.

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