District implementing CPR mandate for students

On Oct. 7 New York became the 19th state to require that hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) be taught to all senior high school students. The Board of Regents adopted the amendment to the Commissioner of Education’s regulations which go into effect immediately. The move was applauded by the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Red Cross (ARC), members of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) community and citizens who worked for 10 years to implement the instruction. Hands-only CPR instruction must be provided at least once in a student’s high
school career and will be a requirement for graduation. Anyone
providing CPR is protected by the “Good Samaritan” law as are the
instructors and school districts. The law provides immunity from
liability to any “Good Samaritan” who voluntarily, and without
monetary compensation, gives emergency assistance to a person who is
unconscious, ill or injured. (Article 30 Section 3000a of the NYS Public Health Law)

The Liberty Central School District is currently determining how to best implement hands-only CPR and AED instruction in the high school. Considerations include where to put the instruction in the existing curriculum, who will provide the instruction and what equipment is needed to meet this new mandate. Instruction must be based on a nationally recognized program that uses the most current guidelines established by the AHA. The program is expected to take from two to four classroom periods to complete. Since CPR cards will not be issued to students following instruction, any certified teacher or CPR instructor can teach the material. Several low-cost and no-cost options are available for
schools to obtain the necessary equipment to provide CPR instruction. Schools may purchase a complete kit with 10 inflatable manikins and other necessary equipment for $625. The kit can be used to instruct from 10 to 20 students in one session. Cooperating with local emergency medical services and existing CPR instructor networks could significantly reduce the cost to the district.

When a cardiac arrest occurs, the victim’s heart stops pumping blood and their breathing ceases. Performing chest compressions will force blood to circulate through the body. As the chest is compressed, the lungs inflate and deflate ensuring that the blood contains oxygen. A study  commissioned by the American Heart Association and released in 2008 showed that hands-only CPR is effective and easy to perform. CPR must be started within 4 to 6 minutes to keep the vital internal organs like the brain alive. Chest compressions alone seldom restart a stop heart. Automated external defibrillators can be used to shock some victims so their heart returns to a normal rhythm. These devices are very safe and will only shock victims who would benefit from the treatment.

The “Chain of Survival” refers to the steps needed to give a cardiac arrest victim the best chance of survival. The steps are shown in the illustration above and include:

  • Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system
  • Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with an emphasis on chest compressions
  • Rapid defibrillation
  • Effective advanced life support
  • Integrated post-cardiac arrest care

The first three links in this chain can only be provided by people trained in CPR and the use of an AED. If these links are broken, the chance for a
cardiac arrest victim to survive is greatly decreased. Ralph
Bressler, an Emergency Medical Technician and CPR instructor for 30
years stated, “I have performed CPR over a hundred times and have
only two ‘saves’. In both of those cases CPR was started immediately
by a family member who continued this life-saving procedure until
advanced care arrived.In many other cases CPR was not being performed when the ambulance crew arrived making a ‘save’ very unlikely.”

Resources for Hands-only CPR

American Heart Association

American Red Cross

Hands-Only CPR video

Keep the beat, Learn Hands-Only CPR video

Ken Jeong AHA Hands-Only video

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