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North Pointe Now

Legislation mandates CPR graduation requirement

By Michal Ruprecht and Katelynn Mulder

Each year, about 400,000 people suffer cardiac arrests and aren’t in the hospital, and fewer than 6 percent of them survive, The Washington Post reported in 2015.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation can restore oxygenated blood flow to vital organs if a person stops breathing or a heart stops beating normally—it’s the difference between life and death.

However, fewer than 3 percent of the U.S. population receives CPR training. University of Michigan Medicine wrote that the State of Michigan, with a cardiac survival rate of 8 percent, falls behind the national of 10 percent.

State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Rep. Tom Hooker wanted to change those statistics by introducing Michigan Senate Bill 647, signed in December of 2016 by Gov. Rick Snyder. The new legislation requires students in grades 7-12 to take CPR training and learn how to use an automated external defibrillator in health class before graduating.

Maureen Bur, director of secondary education, said the GPPSS health and physical education curriculums will include CPR and AED training starting in the 2017-18 school year. Although the law doesn’t require CPR and AED training in physical education classes (which always have them), Bur said the intent of the bill is good because it provides students and adults instruction that can potentially be life-saving.

“Whether it be at school or at the park, at a concert … you may be able to be that difference in someone having significant you know life injury or possibly even death,” she said.

According to physical education teacher Bruce Bentley, the instruction in the courses will be more involved and longer compared to the health class.

Michigan isn’t the first state to adopt this law. In 1984, Alabama ratified similar legislation, followed by 33 other states. The majority of those states adopted it in the past one to three years.

Based on results from these states, University of Michigan Medicine expects Michigan’s cardiac arrest survival rate to double, which will lead to 400 additional lives saved every year. The American Heart Association said the bill will result in about 100,000 more CPR-trained Michiganians every year.

According to Bur, GPPSS may need to buy more equipment. She said the training will be taught by P.E. and health teachers who are certified through the AHA and American Red Cross. Students who took health class before the 2017-18 school year won’t have to retake the class.

Because Bentley has seen positive outcomes from the training, he said he wants to continue to teach students. He also said learning CPR early will help prepare students in emergency situations.

“It will save lives. The more people that know CPR, the better it is for each family because seven out of 10 times you have to do CPR on somebody, it’s on somebody you know,” he said. “The quicker you get to something, the more likely you’re going to save one’s life. I’ve actually had kids that have saved lives literally. They had stopped heart beats and they’ve brought them back to life and it’s not just few, it’s several. So, it does help and hopefully you never ever ever have to use it, but if you have to use it, you’ll be glad to know how to use it because most of the time, like I said, it’ll be family related.”

Junior Sydney Semack, a certified lifeguard, said the legislation can improve preparedness in unprecedented situations. Although she didn’t find much merit in the CPR training in her gym class, she said it could help students get a general idea of it.

“It would be better for the whole community that we’re all able to help each other out,” Semack said. “We would be more aware in being able to help people than just being a bystander in a life or death situation.”

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