FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - One lawmaker wants every Kentucky student to learn a life saving method.
Representative Jeff Greer and the American Heart Association held a press conference Tuesday detailing House Bill 205, which will require a basic CPR and AED awareness training for every Kentucky high school student.
CPR training is part of Kentucky's Academic Core Standards for high school health education, and health education is a requirement for high school graduation. Even though CPR instruction is included in the curriculum, the instruction isn't always provided. The legislation will ensure that the instruction is provided.
"While CPR is included in the state's standards for high school health classes, I have learned that not all students are being taught this life-saving procedure," said Representative Greer. "I want to make sure that everyone has access to this training before they graduate, which is why I am working with the American Heart Association to sponsor a bill that would make this a reality. This training saves lives, as we have seen in recent months on three separate occasions in my community. Each of these could have ended tragically if not for our firefighters, police officers and other first responders providing CPR. There are more than 4,000 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Kentucky each year - this requirement could lead to huge dividends. It's something I think all high school students should know, and a dozen other states already agree."
As part of the announcement, Henry Clay High School Senior, Will Freeman, taught one of his fellow classmates how to perform Hands-Only CPR. Freeman has been an outspoken advocate for CPR training in high schools. He says he witnessed firsthand the importance of knowing the procedure.
"A friend of my little brother's had a heart attack at a birthday party. No body knew CPR except for one person. And that one person saved his life. So, I wanted to be certified myself and be able to teach people CPR, so they can others."
Freeman has made efforts with his local school officials to ensure all 500 graduating seniors will be trained in February.
Hands-only CPR is a two-step technique that involves calling 9-1-1 and pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives. This simplified method of CPR requires no mouth-to-mouth breathing and does not require certification. Under the proposed legislation, schools will have the flexibility to decide which version of CPR they want to offer.
Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S., and nearly 360,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year. Unfortunately, nearly 90% of cardiac arrest victims do not survive mostly because they don't receive timely CPR.
"When properly performed, CPR can double or triple a person's chance of survival," said Dr. Sylvia Cerel-Suhl, former board President of the Central Kentucky Chapter of the American Heart Association. "This legislation will ensure that today's students will become tomorrow's lifesavers."
The American Heart Association recommends CPR training in schools that introduces and reinforces the importance of: recognition of a possible cardiac arrest; calling 9-1-1; and providing high-quality chest compressions with minimal interruptions. In order to assure the necessary competencies are developed, the trainings must include hands-on skills practice. Training should also include, at least, an awareness of the purpose of an AED, a device designed for use by non-medical bystanders that can restore a normal heart rhythm in many situations. Studies have shown that training can be done in as little as 30 minutes and at little to no cost.
Twelve states have passed CPR in schools legislation, including Tennessee and many southern states.
This effort is also supported by the KY Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services, the Kentucky Ambulance Provider Association, the Kentucky Nurses Association, Kentucky Youth Advocates, and Kentucky Voices for Health.
For more information about which states have passed legislation, or to get involved, visit yourethecure.org.