Union Bank, American Heart Assn. salute teens who save lives on 2017 Rose Parade float

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With hands-only CPR, it takes just five minutes to learn how to save a person’s life. The 14 riders on the Union Bank/American Heart Association Rose Parade float can attest to that—eight are youngsters whose training saved a life, and six are survivors of cardiac arrest. They are joined by musician Ilisa Juried, whose life was saved by CPR when she was 18.

Ilisa Juried wrote a song and will sing it on the Union Bank/American Heart Assn. float.
Ilisa Juried wrote a song and will sing it on the Union Bank/American Heart Assn. float.

“Keep the Beat Alive” will roll down the Tournament of Roses Parade route on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 to the music Juried composed. The sponsors are dedicated to CPR training, especially of youth, and will offer free hands-only CPR training at the Showcase of Floats on Jan. 2 and 3. It also celebrates the passage of a new law in California that requires most high school students to be trained in hands-only CPR.

We spoke with some of the riders at the Phoenix Decorating Company float barn on Thursday.

Ilisa Juried collapsed while dancing with a hip-hop crew while sightseeing in New York. She was 18 at the time. Two nurses and German visitor applied CPR for 30 minutes, until paramedics arrived with a defibrillator. In the 11 years since, she has honed her music and acting skills; she has been a professional singer since she was 13.

We asked if she had learned CPR. “Of course!” she replied. She volunteers with AHA as a speaker and CPR trainer in schools and community settings. She brought music and CPR together in writing a song that will debut on the float, “Live Your Life,” and teaching a group of teens from Crenshaw and Lincoln high schools a dance incorporating CPR ge

Madi Giese at Rosemont Pavilion
Madi Giese at Rosemont Pavilion


“You can actually do a lot by learning CPR,” she said. “Teach friends, teach family…save lives.”

Madi Giese was 15 when the CPR she learned as a Junior Lifeguard saved a life two

years ago. She was working a tennis tournament, checking players in, when a girl playing tennis collapsed on the court. The tournament director asked if anyone knew CPR.

“I knew CPR. I didn’t think I’d ever have to use it,” she said. “My boss said, ‘Do it!’” Her training kicked in; it took just 12 chest compressions to get the girl breathing again. “About 50 to 75 people were around who didn’t do anything,” she told us. “I thought, ‘What if it was me?’”

She said, “The thing I was most freaked about was that I knew what to do, and if I didn’t, if I let her die…. The main thing is to do something. Don’t just stand by.” Hands-only CPR is easy to learn, she says, no matter how old or how young someone is.

Melissa Ziebell working on the Union Bank/American Heart Assn. float.
Melissa Ziebell working on the Union Bank/American Heart Assn. float.

Melissa Ziebell was just finishing up a half marathon in Paris when her legs gave out, the result of a congenital defect she didn’t know she had. Two young girls immediately began compressions and kept her heart beating until volunteers brought a defibrillator. She said that she had spent much time training alone and is fortunate that it did not happen then. She did not get the names of the girls. “I tried to look for them, but I did not find them,” she told us.

She has since learned CPR herself, and would like to get trained in defibrillation. “They did CPR on me, but in the end, needed a defibrillator.” She says she is definitely ready to use CPR if needed.

Ziebell is a physicist who tests electro-optical devices. She was in a Ph.D. program in France at the time, and now works locally. “Electro-optics can be applied to anything,” she said, such as telecommunications and medical uses.

For more about teenagers learning CPR and an artist’s concept of the float, read “California high schoolers learn CPR.”