SAN DIEGO — Nearly 300 junior lifeguards learned the important skill of CPR in Mission Bay Thursday from San Diego Fire-Rescue Department lifeguards.

It’s one of the many activities the youths will experience during the junior lifeguard program, which provides training for kids ages 7-17, giving them the chance to learn from the professionals.

There are two, four-week sessions that are offered every summer. Besides learning CPR, the kids learn basic first aid, water rescue techniques and how to enjoy the beach safely.

The CPR training is a huge part of the program, as up to 400,000 people die every year in the United States from sudden cardiac arrest. If CPR is performed immediately after a person’s heart stops, it can double or triple their chances of survival, lifeguards say.

“It can happen anywhere and if you’re a first responder, you got to know CPR,” explained Heather Rabe, Program Manager for San Diego Junior Lifeguards. “What we’re trying to do is instill the knowledge in our kids so that if they ever need to use it, they know how to do it. They can actually help somebody save a life.”

The training is only offered to older kids every other year, that’s why 16-year-old Curren Aldrich is taking the class this summer.

“It was just an important skill that I figured I needed to know if I’m going to be out and about on the beach here in San Diego,” said Aldrich. He’s been a junior lifeguard for several years. Although he’ll be grateful once he becomes CPR certified, he says he hopes he never has to do it.

Aldrich and the other nearly 300 kids will return next week for the actual CPR test. They will officially become certified if they pass.

The Junior Lifeguard Program is funded by the City of San Diego with support from the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego.