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Giffords’ Office to Teach Hill Staffers to Save Lives

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ aides in Washington, still reeling from the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., are organizing free CPR and first aid training next week as part of a broader effort to give people the same lifesaving skills a 20-year-old Giffords intern used to save her life in January.

Aides to the Arizona Democrat released a flier Tuesday inviting Members of Congress and their staffs to “learn hands-only CPR and first aid skills” in the Cannon Caucus Room on March 16. Giffords’ office is teaming up with the American Red Cross to provide several one-hour training sessions throughout the day.

C.J. Karamargin, Giffords’ spokesman, said his office was inspired to provide free first aid training because of Daniel Hernandez, the Congressional intern whom many credit with saving Giffords’ life after she was shot in the head during the Tucson shooting rampage on Jan. 8 that left six dead and 13 injured. Hernandez applied lifesaving skills he learned in high school to stem the lawmaker’s bleeding.

The Hill event is a prelude to the American Red Cross kicking off a major effort to offer the same training in more than 100 communities around the country on March 19 as part of its “Gabrielle Giffords Honorary Save-a-Life Saturday” campaign.

“In an effort to extract some element of good out of that horrible day, we thought this was something we could do with a long-lasting impact,” Karamargin said. He added that it “made sense” to launch the national effort after first providing training to people on Capitol Hill, where “every Congressional office has been affected profoundly” by the Tucson massacre.

Giffords’ absence from Capitol Hill remains on the minds of her colleagues: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) sent out an e-mail Tuesday indicating that a “get well” card would be made available in the Democratic cloakroom throughout the week “for all Members to sign and send well wishes to her.”

Giffords’ staff has been managing the Congresswoman’s affairs while she undergoes rehabilitation in Houston, where she has been since late January.

Last week, a constituent services representative in Giffords’ Tucson office helped a constituent work with a mortgage company to stave off foreclosure. And later Tuesday, Giffords’ staffers will present an award to the trauma team at University Medical Center in Phoenix for their response to the shooting.

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