By David Yamaguchi The North American Post
Kerry Taniguchi, longtime volunteer with the International District Emergency Center (IDEC) and Nisei Veterans Committee (NVC) Hall, passed away in his sleep early this month.
Kerry’s broad community service to the International District (ID) was illustrated by his organizing COVID-19 vaccinations over a weekend at the NVC.
Others of us knew Kerry from his earlier first-aid training to members of the “Crashdancers” social dance class, held at NVC from 2011 to February 2020, when it was paused due to the pandemic. His contribution to our class began with the January 2013 NVC newsletter. It read, “The NVC Foundation is pleased to announce an Introductory CPR and AED Workshop, conducted by Kerry Taniguchi. This training session will introduce participants to the basic techniques and benefits of CPR and the basic use of an AED device. There will be NO charge for the introduction to CPR and AED workshop class…”
Background on the dance class is helpful. First organized by Bev Kashino and two friends as an income-generating activity for the hall, the classes ran 2.5 hours, three Fridays per month. Each class filled the gym with 35-60, mostly baby boomers. By 2013, running of the class had been passed onto ten of us dance students to take over. As the new organizers, we began asking new questions about it, such as “What happens if someone has a heart attack in class?”
By then, Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machines had been mounted on the walls of the NVC gym and meeting room downstairs. These are the electric-shock delivering “miracle machines” with which teenagers have saved lives in emergencies by following the simple instructions. However, perhaps like many NVC rental groups, none of the new dance organizers had had any formal training with the devices.
We knew we would feel terrible if a heart attack occurred and we were unable to figure out how to use the AEDs in time. Accordingly, four of us registered for Kerry’s class shortly after learning of it, for it seemed like a timely message from heaven.
In class, Kerry explained that his IDEC group had arranged for the NVC to purchase the costly AEDs at a discount by ordering them in bulk along with those for several other ID nonprofits. Moreover, they had obtained training mannequins and kits from the same company, so that ID volunteers would be able to practice on the same type of machines they might one day have to use. The mannequins are similar to those used for conventional CPR training.
Upon completing Kerry’s CPR & AED class, the four of us received American Red Cross CPR & AED cards, signed by Kerry, and acquired newfound confidence. With us certified, we felt that the chances were good that at least two of us would be in the NVC gym on any given class night. We would be able to work as a pair to talk each other through the seconds-count procedure at a moment’s notice.
At the time, I was also working as a caregiver for elderly Nikkei women in an adult family home. While I fortunately never had to administer CPR there, those eight ladies benefited from Kerry updating my training as well.
After teaching us CPR & AED, Kerry occasionally visited the Crashdancers class as a bystander, while attending to other business at the NVC Hall. Through his careful forethought, he contributed much to the successful operation of our class, which we hope to resume in September.