Ice hockey has long held a reputation as a rough sport, but members of the Ventura Mariners may be turning that image around by becoming volunteers for the American Red Cross.
At their home arena in Simi Valley on Wednesday evening, about 30 members of the Ventura Mariners junior ice hockey team practiced the essentials of cardiopulmonary resuscitation--a lifesaving technique used to restart stalled hearts--on plastic dummies.
Members of the Mariners, ages 16 to 20, are the first hockey organization in the nation to become certified in CPR as part of “Team Red Cross.”
First developed in Ventura County, Team Red Cross was established to teach teens and young adults lifesaving techniques such as CPR and to promote youth involvement in disaster relief efforts.
“The American Red Cross adopted this program and will launch it at chapters across the country later this year to encourage young people to volunteer and get involved,” Mariners spokesman John Parks said.
“Some people have an image of the Red Cross as being pretty stodgy, so this is a neat way of saying this is something you need to be involved with,” Parks added. “Our goal is to get CPR taught at the high schools here in Ventura County, and to train every single high school student in CPR.”
Parks said the minor league Mariners, currently ranked first in the Western States Hockey League with a 19-3 record, have a large following of young people in the county, making them fitting role models for local youth, Parks said.
“We have upwards of a thousand people who come to the games,” he said. “To the people who come to the games, these are the pros.”
Though the Mariners will be taking the lead in getting local youths involved in Team Red Cross activities, it was a group of professional surfers, including Evan Slater of Ventura, who got the program afloat a little more than a year ago.
Parks said Team Red Cross is a tribute to local pro surfer and Red Cross volunteer Donnie Solomon, who was killed in December 1995 in 20-foot surf shortly after riding the biggest wave of his life at Waimea Bay in Hawaii.
“He was paddling out after catching this wave, got caught in this freak close-out swell and was under water for about 20 minutes,” Parks said.
Parks added that the tragedy, and the death of renowned surfer Mark Foo in California a year before, are what prompted other professional wave riders to begin promoting lifesaving techniques through the Red Cross.