Posted by allisong on 02/16/2015

New legislation would help keep communities safe by requiring lifesaving CPR training before graduation

SACRAMENTO, February 13, 2015 – A bill introduced to the state legislature holds the power to create a generation of lifesavers in California by requiring that schools teach students Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) before they graduate. Assembly Bill 319 would effectively prepare young people to respond to victims experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, many of which die before Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) arrive because CPR was not administered.

The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, and requires the governing board of a school district and charter school to provide instruction in performing CPR.

“CPR is one of the most important life skills a person can have. I have been an Emergency Medical Technician for over 30 years and I have seen too many cases that could have turned out differently if a bystander had known how to administer CPR,” said Rodriguez.

Trainings must be based on standards that are at least equivalent to the standards currently used by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association, or an instructional program that is nationally recognized and based on the most current national evidence-based emergency cardiovascular care guidelines.

“The American Heart Association’s goal is to teach lifesaving CPR skills to as many California teens and young adults as possible to help keep our communities safer, year after year,” said Dr. Franklin Pratt, medical director of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and volunteer spokesperson for the American Heart Association. “We applaud Assemblymember Rodriguez for introducing this bill that will prepare millions of young people to become our ‘first, first responders.’ help save a life. Having a new generation of lifesavers will deliver an increased amount of safety and security to all of our communities.”

The Los Angeles County Fire Department believes so strongly in the effectiveness of teaching CPR to our youth that they will be training 9,000 students this year using the American Heart Association’s CPR Anytime program.

Nearly 424,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 10 percent of them survive, most likely because they don’t receive timely CPR. Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR could save thousands of lives by filling our communities with young adults trained to give cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMTs arrive.

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating. It is most often caused by coronary heart disease, but it can also be caused by trauma, an overdose, or drowning. Within a few, sudden seconds, the victim’s heart stops beating; blood stops circulating; oxygen stops flowing to the brain; and the victim stops breathing. Five minutes is the difference between life and death. If no CPR is provided or no defibrillation occurs within 3 to 5 minutes of collapse, the chances of survival drop.

The American Heart Association has helped pass similar legislation in 20 other states. In January, Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) officially became the first District in California to require a Hands-On CPR and AED Training Unit as part of 9th grade health class, a requirement for graduation. Passing state-wide legislation will equip more students with these lifesaving skills.

Studies have shown that young people are capable of learning CPR and using it effectively. American Heart Association volunteer Skylar Berry, 11, was able to save a friend’s life by administering CPR while attending a birthday party.

“I am so glad I learned CPR because it helped save my friend’s life,” said Berry, who learned CPR at a camp organized by her local fire department. “It was scary but I was calm and remembered the training I received. I just shouted to the adults to Call 9-1-1 and immediately started doing CPR after we pulled him from the pool.”

The American Heart Association wants more young people to learn CPR and be lifesavers and is proud to co-sponsor AB 319. The legislation will be heard in committees this spring.