New bill will require CPR training for students

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COLUMBIA — Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill (SB 711) this week to require high school students in public and charter schools to receive 30 minutes of CPR training for lifesaving skills prior to graduation. Senator Dan Brown, R-Rolla sponsored the bill.

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed by rescue breathing and chest compressions when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. 

Natasha Wade has sons in middle and high school and said this is a wonderful decision and more kids should be able to do CPR based on her experience.

"My kids go to Hallsvillle schools, so we're in Boone County. We actually had a kid that was choking and one of the teachers did the Heimlick on him to help him to breath, but he was surrounded by kids that didn't know anything, didn't know what to do," Wade said.

Wade believes this type of life-saving training would empower kids to handle stress better under a situation like that. She also said students who have lifesaving skills like CPR are very rare in the community.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death. Over 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in America each year.

Jace Smith, Senior Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association in Missouri, said “Four of every five out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in private or residential settings. CPR training in schools strengthens the cardiac chain of survival by equipping thousands of civilian bystanders to be ready to respond in an emergency. Many lives will be saved because of this legislation.”

The American Heart Association also says70 percent of cardiac arrests happen in homes, and CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

Missouri is the 34th state to offer CPR instruction and training in schools. The law will take effect during the 2017-2018 school year, and over 60,000 Missouri students will immediately receive this training.

"I think it's awesome for the schools, too. It's like a driver's ed that kind of thing, it's that step to get into adulthood," Wade said. 

The law does not require students to achieve CPR certification, nor is this a “pass/fail” training. 

"If I was in charge, I just make sure that every child is able to participate, not a certain class, or have to pay for, or anything like that," Wade said.  

Garrett Wade, Wade's son who is a middle school student, said he would also prefer starting this kind of training at a young age.

"If someone in your family gets hurt or something and you learned it in class, you could have help them," Garrett Wade said.