Submitted by SCAFoundation on Sat, 07/28/2012 - 12:00am

RALEIGH -- Gov. Bev Perdue has signed into law a bill that requires North Carolinians to complete a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training course in order to graduate from high school.

The requirement has been on the books since 1997, but it has never been compulsory or documented.

The graduating class of 2015 will be the first held to the standard set under House Bill 837.

Perdue was alongside the bill’s co-sponsors – Reps. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, and Carolyn Justice, R-Pender – when she signed the bill at the Capitol this week.

There was little opposition when the bill passed during the final days of the legislative session, and many education leaders have voiced support in the weeks since.

Some districts have long provided the training to students and will expand on existing programs.

Stephen Mares, principal of Broughton High School in Raleigh, said the transition should be seamless because the physical education department already provides CPR training on an optional basis and will likely be able to expand their training for the uptick in students.

Rodney Peterson, chief academic officer for Johnston County Schools, said he is waiting for guidance from the state Department of Public Instruction to formulate an implementation plan. He said CPR is already a focus area for eighth grade students..

Beth McCullough, spokeswoman for Chatham County Schools, said their physical education teachers were trained by the Red Cross last summer and licensed as CPR instructors – she said that should make the new requirement simple enough to implement, and that it’s a good thing.

“None of us, adults or young people, ever know when we’ll come across an emergency situation where we’ll need to know how to help someone,” McCullough said. “The importance of being able to act when that happens can’t be understated.”