High-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and early AED use can make a significant difference in a person’s chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest. Therefore, many states have enacted new laws that require the implementation of CPR training and automatic external defibrillator training for high school students.
Let’s explore how CPR in schools is impacting bystander CPR rates and how this required training translates into our communities long-term.
Bystander CPR improves OHCA survival rates: State CPR laws are making an impact
A recent newsletter from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation highlights a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that examines whether rates of bystander CPR differ in states requiring CPR and AED training in schools versus states without CPR education mandates.
Overall, the study concluded that states with laws requiring CPR and AED training in high school have higher rates of bystander CPR after out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA). Specifically, the study found:
The rate of bystander CPR was 41.6% for states with CPR education laws in place.
States without CPR curriculum within schools had a bystander CPR rate of 39.5%.
Rates of bystander CPR show a higher trend after the first year of state law enactment.
Additionally, findings suggest low economic status communities could see the greatest benefits from help in enacting CPR and AED education mandates.
CPR programs in schools: Life-saving skills that go beyond the classroom
Getting CPR training programs into school districts across the United States can have a domino effect on outcomes. Students and school staff have an opportunity to learn vital skills that can be used at home, in the classroom, at their future workplaces and out in their community. This push for CPR in schools can be especially impactful for underserved communities.
The study’s lead author Victoria Vetter, MD, MPH explained:
“Targeting student populations in underserved and minority communities with low rates of BCPR should help by providing a trained group of individuals who live in the communities, decreasing these health disparities… High school students will become the next generation of bystanders who can provide CPR and AED use, once they are educated. Those trained as students are likely to be in homes or community sites where cardiac arrests commonly occur.”
Giving young people the confidence to respond during medical emergencies can benefit them now and well into the future. These are skills that can be retained for a lifetime and, therefore, passed on to family members from generation to generation.
If your state legislature doesn't currently require CPR and AED training as a high school graduation requirement, we encourage you to contact your state representatives. You can also contact your local HSI Training Center for CPR classes near you.