The American Heart Association is calling for CPR training and an understanding of automated external defibrillators to be required of everyone before graduating high school.
The association said that requiring the training of anyone seeking a high school diploma would quickly increase the number of people equipped to respond to attacks of sudden cardiac arrest, one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
The new advisory was published recently in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. It asks state legislatures to implement mandatory training in CPR and AED as part of high school graduation requirements and to direct money to guarantee that educating kids fulfill the new educational standard.
“Training of all secondary education students will add a million trained rescuers to the population every few years,” said Mary Fran Hazinski, co-author of the advisory and a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tenn. “Those students will be ready, willing and able to act for many years to come, whenever they witness an emergency within the community.”
For the most recent school year, 36 states had laws or standards that encouraged CPR training in schools, according to the American Heart Association. Schools use different methods to pass along the training and pay for it, the advisory said, including using volunteer instructors and getting support from local businesses, civic groups and nonprofits.
“Many schools have overcome barriers to training and begun teaching CPR,” Hazinski said. “But I think a legislative mandate and support for training in schools would go a long way.”
In a statement by the American Heart Association, research has shown bystanders without any CPR knowledge are less likely to help cardiac victims, while those with training do not hesitate to help and take action. CPR, defibrillation and resuscitation can increase survival of cardiac arrest by as much as 50 percent or more.
Medical personnel treat 300,000 out-of-hospital cases because of cardiac arrest and are the leading case of death in the U.S. every year. Budget restraints have limited some schools, while others have recognized the need to teach CPR. By creating legislature to mandate CPR training to middle and high school students it may help save the lives of family members or those affected by tragedy.