Two Petalumans use CPR to save lives

When Tena Jackson stopped breathing at her Petaluma home recently, her two daughters jumped into action.|

When Tena Jackson stopped breathing at her Petaluma home recently, her two daughters jumped into action. Luckily, her youngest, Emmy Stephens-Jackson, 13, had just learned CPR at school through a countywide program that is teaching kids to save lives.

Using the skills she learned from Save Lives Sonoma, the Petaluma Junior High seventh grader helped her older sister, Koko Stephens-Jackson, 16, perform CPR on her mother, who lay unconscious on the living room floor.

“My face and neck were turning blue,” said Tena Jackson, a special education aide at San Antonio High School. “I’m incredibly proud of my daughters. They called 911, then they got down to business. They knew what to do.”

It was the first of two citizen CPR saves in Petaluma in one week, said Jeff Schach, a battalion chief with the Petaluma Fire Department. On April 16, a 61-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest behind the wheel of his car while stopped at a traffic light on Lakeville Highway.

His vehicle began slowly moving backwards and bumped into the car behind him The driver of that car got out and saw the other man was slumped over and turning blue, Schach said. Two truck drivers helped break through the driver’s side window, using a fire extinguisher and a hammer.

They pulled the man out of the vehicle and began administering CPR. A woman in a Verihealth medical transport van had a defibrillator and used it on the man until paramedics arrived.

“It’s really cool to see people saving lives,” Schach said. “They were able to keep the blood pumping until we could get there.”

In Jackson’s case, the fact that her daughters knew CPR probably saved her life.

“Every pump that they give is a few extra seconds to allow the fire department to get there,” she said. “There’s no question it saved my life. I’m just glad my daughters were home. I’m very lucky that they had the wherewithal to apply their knowledge and hold it together.”

Emmy had just received CPR training a week prior to the incident. The Petaluma Fire Department and Petaluma Heath Care District are sponsoring the countywide CPR education initiative in Petaluma. More than 900 Petaluma seventh graders have learned hands-only CPR, which consists of chest compression, and is an easier version than standard CPR, which includes breathing into the other person’s mouth.

Save Lives Sonoma is made up of emergency responders, health organizations and heart attack survivors. The effort includes an attempt to get an automated external defibrillator at every school in the county.

Emmy said that her older sister took charge of performing CPR on her mother, but was doing it incorrectly. Her recent training kicked in and she was able to correct her sister.

“She was holding her hands in a strange way,” she said. “I helped her in that. I was calm.”

(Contact Matt Brown at On Twitter @MattBrownAC.)

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.