Alison’s memory lives on

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 14, 2003

AHOSKIE – The earsplitting howl of more than a dozen emergency response vehicles sounding their alarms simultaneously in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 1 p.m. Saturday announced the beginning of the second annual Alison Luna CPR Awareness Day.

EMTs, firefighters and law enforcement officers gathered to support the Hertford County Emergency Services Council’s effort to educate the public about what to do when someone is in distress.

Volunteer EMTs from the Harrellsville, Ahoskie, Conway-Severn, Aulander, Como, Winton, and Murfreesboro rescue squads manned were on hand beneath a tent in front of Wal-Mart to show people how to do basic cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

Utilizing lifelike mannequins, anyone interest in basic CPR could get a quick primer on how to potentially save a life. EMTs also performed blood pressure and blood sugar checks, had demonstrations showing how EMTs perform their life-saving work.

These lessons were performed in the shadow of a memorial display on the life of Alison Luna, a 12-year-old student who died suddenly and without any prior indication of health problem in her Hertford County Middle School classroom on May 3, 2002.

Visitors were fascinated by one of the photographs on display. Taken a week before her death with a group of other people, a faint halo can be seen hovering over Luna’s head.

The cause of Luna’s death remains a mystery, said Dr. Lou Velazquez, and although CPR probably would not have saved her, from this tragedy came hope for future children in the school system.

Luna’s mother, Barbara Wommack, discovered that few if any school personnel had basic CPR training and immediately launched a campaign to ensure that all Hertford County teachers have the knowledge to render life-giving assistance should another student require it.

Following her daughter’s death, Wommack attended county commissioner, school board and town council meetings to rally support for obtaining CPR training local law enforcement officers and for the teachers and staff of the Hertford County public school system.

The Hertford County Emergency Services Council – comprised of a dedicated group of professional and volunteer medical personnel who are driven to save lives – seized this inspired idea and made it a reality, offering CPR training to the school system, law enforcement officers and any other group that wishes to learn how to save the life of someone in distress.

In addition, HCESC organized Alison Luna CPR Awareness Day last July and made it an annual event, with plans to increase its range and scope each year.

Holly Cook, an EMT with Como Rescue Squad, said that while last year’s Awareness Day was mostly for Hertford County rescue squads, this year local fire departments and law enforcement agencies were invited to participate.

Firefighters from Murfreesboro, Ahoskie, Ahoskie Rural, and Union fire departments were on hand, as were law enforcement officers from the Murfreesboro and Ahoskie police departments and the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office.

Cook, Dawn Liverman of Murfreesboro Rescue and RCCC EMS instructor Fred Curley were in charge of organizing this year’s event.

They got support from Fineline Industries in Woodland, Wal-Mart of Ahoskie, and Pepsi Bottling Company of Elizabeth City.

In addition, Ahoskie Body Shop and Good News Auto Parts & Salvage donated wrecked cars so EMTs and firefighters could demonstrate how to extricate and rescue injured people trapped in automobiles.

Not only did these extrication demonstrations draw large audiences, they also served as training for the assembled EMTs and firefighters.

The second annual Allison Luna CPR Awareness Day brought together some of the area’s most valuable commodities – the volunteers and professionals who give so much of themselves to help others – so they could educate the public not only about what they do, but also to give instruction so that everyone can help save a life when an emergency occurs.