CPR — now a graduation requirement

By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

Beginning this fall, Leander ISD students will be required to complete a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training course before they can graduate from high school, due to legislation passed during the 2013 Texas legislative session. Texas will be among 17 states now requiring all high school students to complete CPR training before graduation.

The American Heart Association has worked closely with state legislators in Texas and 16 other states to pass laws that will require high school seniors to have completed basic CPR training before they graduate. The program gives school districts the flexibility to place the training in any class and will allow the districts to offer the training anytime between 7th and 12th grades.

courtesy photo

courtesy photo

The legislation, HB 897, was sponsored by State Rep. John Zerwas and received overwhelming support, according to Courtney DeBower, Texas government relations director for the American Heart Association.

“Our schools play an important role in preparing students to be engaged citizens who will contribute to their communities,” DeBower said. “Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States and by training students to be lifesavers in their own communities, we can double or even triple a victim’s survival rate.”

The new requirement will result in nearly 300,000 more people per year in Texas knowing CPR, according to the American Heart Association. Nationwide, more than 1,000,000 people will learn CPR every year.

“Studies have shown that middle school and high school-aged children can effectively learn and perform CPR,” DeBower said. “Many schools have incorporated CPR training into existing health and physical education classes and have found it to be an excellent complement to current curriculum.”

The law requires that students learn compression-only CPR and not the mouth-to-mouth method, though schools may choose to offer a more comprehensive training.

“Hands-only CPR performed by a bystander has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR with mouth-to-mouth breaths in the first few minutes of an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest,” DeBower said.

DeBower added that contemporary hands-only CPR training is much easier than training of years past and can be effectively completed in as little as 30 minutes.

“CPR training includes a video and practice on a mannequin and does not need to be taught by a certified instructor,” she said.

There are many low-cost and even free options available to schools including local AHA training centers, fire departments, EMS and local hospitals. DeBower said many of these groups were involved in passing the legislation and offered to provide assistance to the schools.

She said AHA worked closely with school districts prior to the passage of the legislation to answer questions and ensure that the requirement would be easy to implement.

“We made sure that school districts had the flexibility to provide the training during whatever grade level they choose and during any current course or during a school assembly or other activity,” she said.

About 92 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital, but statistics prove that if more people knew CPR, more lives could be saved. Immediate CPR can double, or even triple, a victim’s chance of survival.  According to the AHA, 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed.

For more information about CPR and the American Heart Association, visit www.heart.org/handsonlycpr