ORLANDO, Fla. — Tragedy translated into change after a student died following a medical episode in a class at the University of Central Florida on Monday, Sept. 21. The student who tried to save his life is taking action.
It started off like any other Monday at UCF for student Manny Orozco, but that day would change things forever. Orozco was about to head into class when another student had a seizure and what’s believed to be a massive heart attack.
“I was outside of the class. I was sitting there with a friend and we were just talking,” said UCF student Manny Orozco. “I immediately said, ‘Take me to him, to whoever needs it.’ We ran there as soon as possible and started resuscitating him,” Orozco said.
Orozco did his best to save the 18-year-old freshman, by performing CPR. Paramedics arrived and went right into their life-saving efforts. The teen died the next day.
Orozco’s actions that followed sparked change and created an overwhelming level of viral support. He penned an open letter to the student’s parents apologizing for the lost of their son. He posted the letter to his Facebook page. In that letter, he also called for better awareness about how to perform CPR and the need for more defibrillators in school.
It wasn’t long before UCF responded. The second largest university in the country is now providing the first three first-aid classes on campus for free, citing the tragedy on campus. Students are moved.
“It makes me feel like they actually care about the students that go here and they actually care about problems,” said UCF student Terence Niles.
Orozco wants anyone who was in the same position he was in, to also have the chance to save a life.
“Go get trained and remember that when someone goes down, you have seconds to react,” Orozco said.
There is a petition on Change.org calling for the campus to have more defibrillators. It already has hundreds of signatures.
UCF released a statement that reads, in part:
“Although we met that standard on Monday, we have already started examining our AED availability and policies to see what we can do better.”
Here’s the poignant letter that Manny Orozco posted to his Facebook page following the death of a fellow student-
“Yesterday at around 11:55am, a UCF student collapsed in his class due to what is now believed to have been a massive heart attack. As a first responder, I was his fighting chance. I did everything I was ever trained to do but I was unsuccessful. The image of his face as I gave him his last breaths and pumped his chest will never leave me. Michael (I believe his name was), wherever you are now, please know that I am so sorry to you man. I am sorry I failed you. I’m sorry you lost your life so soon. I did not know you and I will never get that chance but I have no doubt in my mind that you were a remarkable human being on your path to becoming an extraordinary adult.
To his parents, if I never get the chance to find you, I hope this reaches you: your son fought for his life without feeling any pain. I did everything I knew how to possibly do but it wasn’t enough. I cannot fathom the pain you feel and my words will never ease them but please know that I am so sorry. I will work everyday, as a student of UCF, an individual of society, and hopefully one day as a politician, to assure that what happened to your son can be prevented in schools nationwide. Whether it be by spreading the importance of knowing CPR, adding more AED machines to schools, I will make his life meaningful somehow, someway. I promise.
To everyone else, I’m not writing this to receive any sort of sympathy, that should be directed to Michaels family, but rather to share the importance of knowing what to do in similar situations and to remember this incredible person. Just like millions of other students, including myself, Michael woke up Monday morning for school; to learn, to progress his life, to eventually become an essential part of society. Giving him a 50% chance of living versus a 0% was crucial, regardless of the outcome. Therefore, I plea to everyone out there, please go and familiarize yourselves with the basics of CPR/AED. Every single second counts, trust me. It could mean the difference between life and death.. I only wish I would have gotten to him a couple of minutes sooner.
I ask that everyone please share this post in the hopes of spreading the importance of being CPR trained but also for me to be able to reach Michaels family.
Lastly, to you Michael, I hope you rest in internal peace. You will be missed by the entire UCF community.
UPDATE: “Through the efforts of yesterdays tragedy, I think that there are more acknowledgements due to shed light on the untold story. The courageous students, staff, and police force at UCF all played a crucial role in working towards the better good of saving Micheal’s life.”