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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Williston, Vt.) - A Vermont teenager is getting national praise for spreading a message that could save lives.
The American Heart Association has named 15-year-old Tommy Watson of Williston its "Youth Advocate of the Year." Watson testified in the state capital last year before Vermont passed a law requiring that hands-only CPR be taught in high school health classes.
Separately, Watson has already trained 600 people on the skill all on his own. He told New England Cable News he's aiming to train at least 1,000 Vermonters. "I'm definitely not going to slow down now," Watson said. "I'm basically going to keep going and train as many people as possible."
"There are a lot of people who talk the talk but don't walk the walk, and Tommy does both, really," said Tina Zuk of the American Heart Association. "He set a goal of training 100 people in CPR, which is already amazing in itself. But every time he met a goal he set it higher."
The Heart Association will give Watson the award Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Watson told NECN he got interested in CPR when he witnessed an elderly man collapse, and no one around him knew immediately how to help. Watson and Zuk said 90 percent of people die after they experience medical emergencies that cause their hearts to stop. One of the biggest reasons for those deaths, the pair explained, is because others don't perform chest compressions fast enough.