Child’s legacy aims to save lives
At 12:07 p.m., Thursday, May 19, 2011, in St. Paul, Minn., Gov. Mark Dayton signed legislation into law that modified cardiopulmonary resuscitation requirements for child care center staff. From that point onward, “all teachers and assistant teachers in a child care center governed by Minnesota Rules, and at least one staff person during field trips and when transporting children in care, must satisfactorily complete training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and in the treatment of obstructed airways that includes CPR techniques for infants and children.”
Known as Hannah’s Law, the measure is named in honor of Hannah Kozitza, a 4-year-old girl who perished in June 2010 after choking on a whole grape at a day care center in North Mankato, Minn. Hannah’s family was devastated by the loss. Family members were also shocked to discover that no one with CPR certification was present at the center at the time of Hannah’s death.
Jeff Edlund, Hannah’s uncle and brother to Hannah’s mother, Jenni Kozitza, treasured his niece. Along with his sister and Justin Kozitza, her husband and Hannah’s father, Edlund couldn’t get over the fact that Hannah’s death could have been prevented.
“We saw what happened and decided we never wanted anything like that to happen again,” said Edlund, an Information Systems Management major at Dakota County Technical College. “Hannah was a wonderful member of our family.”
The DCTC Continuing Education & Customized Training division is working with the college’s Early Childhood and Youth Development program to develop a CPR training option that meets the requirements of Hannah’s Law and helps ensure greater safety in settings where children our present. The course, which is scheduled to begin November 2011, provides students with invaluable knowledge and skills as they enter the workplace as preschool teachers, child care workers, family day care providers, nannies, school district paraprofessionals and child life assistants.
“When Hannah died, I think we all needed to believe her death wouldn’t be in vain,” Erin Edlund said. “We also knew Hannah’s death was a staggering, life-changing loss for all of us, and our emotions and energy needed to be channeled somewhere to help cope with the grief. Hannah’s Law allowed us to take our devastating loss and make it a gain for others by ensuring Hannah’s death would mean others might live. She had a true zest for life during her four short years, so this was a perfect tribute in the midst of tragedy.”
Edlund’s father-in-law, Ron Edlund, was equally distraught. “I could hardly function after Hannah died,” Ron Edlund said. “I’m the kind of person who needs to know how something happened. I needed to know why.”
Ron Edlund’s determination to find answers led him to Rep. Mary Liz Holberg from District 36A. Holberg’s subsequent research revealed an inadequacy in state law.
“Hannah’s death was a horrendous tragedy,” Holberg said. “The CPR training required by Hannah’s Law greatly enhances a person’s ability to react appropriately and make the right choices in a high-stress situation.”
With expert recommendations from the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, Hannah’s Law passed unanimously in both the Minnesota House and Senate.
“None of us who knew Hannah will ever get over the sadness caused by her death,” Ron Edlund said. “But we all feel pride in the enactment of Hannah’s Law. The law is her legacy—and we are hopeful it will save kids’ lives.”
For more information about CPR training at DCTC, contact:
- Karen Christiansen
Customized Training Coordinator
Choking hazards for children
Listed by the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Hot dogs
- Large chunks of meat
- Whole grapes
- Cubes or chunks of cheese
- Raw vegetables
- Hard or sticky candy
- Chewing gum
- Peanut butter