Missouri Schools Add CPR, Heimlich to Graduation Requirements

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has signed Senate Bill 711 that will require high school seniors to take 30 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and to learn the Heimlich maneuver before they graduate, which will go into effect in the 2017-18 academic year.

The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Ron Hicks (R-St. Peters), who saved the life of a woman in 2014 in the Capitol Rotunda by performing CPR, reports Mike Lear for Missourinet.

"What we're doing here is we're adding a 30-minute portion to the curriculum in the health or in the physical education side of the curriculum," said Hicks. "In that 30-minutes what they will do is they will go over a video and have a hands-on training seminar done to teach – not to certify – to teach the fundamentals of CPR."

The measure is not projected to be an expense to the state since the American Heart Association (AHA) has agreed to donate $150,000 to ensure that every high school in the state is given the kit necessary for the training.

The AHA Senior Government Relations Director Jace Smith explains that cases of sudden cardiac arrest that result in death could have been avoided if someone nearby had known CPR and had administered it during the time it took for emergency medical teams to arrive on the scene.

Only one-third of victims have received that bystander assistance. Help from someone on the scene more than doubles survival rates. Smith noted that CPR using only hand compressions can be learned in 30 minutes. The training will also include how to use the automated external defibrillator (AED), found in many schools.

In the Senate, the new law was sponsored by state Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla). Brown said that this training is something that young people can put to use for the rest of their lives, according to Marshall Griffin of KBIA Public Radio.

"What we hope to do with this idea is get kids a little more interested," he said. "There is actually a film presentation, and the American Heart Association will provide little dummies that they have … they can be reused over and over."

Gov. Nixon said that having this knowledge can often mean the difference between life and death. He added that it is a prudent addition to the physical education curriculum, reports Kurt Erickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The American Heart Association (AHA) says cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death. Every year, over 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests take place in the US. Roughly 90% of those who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die.

But CPR, particularly if administered in the first few moments after the event, can double or even triple the victims' chances of survival. The AHA points out that during CPR, the person giving the CPR should push at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions. The song beat that matches this rhythm comes from The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive."

According to the AHA, cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating. After a few seconds, the victim stops breathing. The first actions should be calling 911 and starting CPR immediately. If an AED is nearby, it should be used as soon as possible.

A heart attack, however, occurs when blood flowing to the heart is blocked. Whether it can be determined that the occurrence is a heart attack or not, 911 should be called and an ambulance should be requested.

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