Little frightens Lydia Payne more than an experience two years ago in which the teen thought she was going to die: choking on a piece of ice and believing she was home alone.

Luckily for her, her older — and CPR-certified — brother actually was home, and he was able to perform the lifesaving skill to dislodge the ice and get Lydia breathing again. Lydia hopes to somehow repay the favor — to him or anyone else who might need help, said the 15-year-old freshman.

Monday, she and roughly 80 students from David Farragut High School in Rota, Spain, will begin a two-week course toward certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other lifesaving skills, offered free by volunteers through the Rota office of the American Red Cross.

“March is Red Cross month, and what better way to engage our youth, who are the future of the Red Cross,” said Kenneth Romero, station manager of Rota’s Red Cross office. “And, if we get them trained, maybe after, we can get them to volunteer.

“Another reason we’re doing it is to help the community be better prepared in order to respond to disaster.”

Certification usually takes nearly eight hours, and for this cycle, nine Red Cross volunteer instructors will space the training over a two-week period so it can be taught during the students’ regular physical education and health classes, Romero said.

Students needing or wanting certification usually got it on their own, so the school gladly accommodated the Red Cross’ proposal to offer it during class time, said health and PE teacher Judy Scarbrough.

“It’s really important … and a great lifesaving skill to know,” Scarbrough said. “It also helps if you want to do lifeguarding or babysitting, which a lot of our students do. We have two pools [on base], and all of the kids go to the beach. You never know when you may have to help a drowning victim. It’s an important skill for everybody.”

The Red Cross is waiving its usual $45 fee, which pays for teaching materials such as books, breathing barriers to prevent sharing of germs during mouth-to-mouth breathing exercises, testing material and certification cards. The Red Cross held a combined fund-raiser in December with Locks of Love — people donated their hair to the charitable organization, and donated the pledges they collected for the event to the Red Cross, he said.

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