Jonathan Madrid was just 18 and the whole world was in front of him. He was preparing to leave home in Belen to study at New Mexico Highlands University. Then, on a lazy August day, Madrid fell off his bicycle, and the young friends who were with him didn’t comprehend the severity of the head injury he received.
By the time they realized that Madrid’s life was on the line, members of the group needed to get instructions from an emergency dispatcher on how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation to save him. They couldn’t do it.
Madrid died on the day he was to head off to college.
Now Madrid is a symbol in the state Legislature for a bill that would incorporate lifesaving training in health education courses for seventh- and ninth-graders across the state. Madrid’s parents, John and Judith Madrid, and his sisters, Lashae Latasa, were at the Capitol on Friday to support the bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.
Latasa, in tears as she testified before the Senate Education Committee, couldn’t get out all the words about how much she misses her brother. She cried hardest when describing the frantic 911 call in which the dispatcher tried to instruct Madrid’s friends on cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Sanchez stepped in to get her through the pain of the moment.
“I’ve known the mother and the dad forever,” Sanchez said. Sanchez described Jonathan Madrid as “one of those special individuals who lit up the room when he walked in.”
The Madrid family asked Sanchez to sponsor a bill to add CPR to the health curriculum in all public schools. Sanchez’s expert witness, Dr. Barry Ramo of the Heart Institute in Albuquerque, said about 17,000 students were trained in CPR last year. Still, about a third of the state’s schools haven’t incorporated CPR into health classes, so the bill is necessary, Ramo said.
Other facets of the proposal would require students to receive training on the signs of a heart attack, how to use an automated external defibrillator, and how to apply the Heimlich maneuver on someone who is choking. Ramo said the training is inexpensive to implement, and it saves lives.
Rep. Terry McMillan, R-Las Cruces, has introduced a bill similar to Sanchez’s. McMillan’s proposal is headed for a floor vote in the House of Representatives. Sanchez’s measure has one more committee to clear before it goes to the full Senate.
John Madrid hugged Sanchez after Friday’s hearing. If one of the bills is approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez, the Madrids say they believe other families will be spared the agony of burying a child.
Sanchez’s proposal is formally called Senate Bill 1, but he refers to it as Jonathan’s Law.
Jonathan Madrid has another legacy. An organ donor, his liver went to his boyhood football coach, Willie Martinez. Martinez needed a liver because he had late-stage non-alcoholic cirrhosis.
The Madrid family said that, so far, time has not made Jonathan’s death any more bearable. In a note that Sanchez read, Jonathan’s mother wrote that her son had “a kind heart, a great sense of humor and a streak of orneriness.”