CPR in School Laws in Eight New States This Year

Thirty-seven states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws or adopted curriculum changes to require hands-on, guidelines-based CPR training to graduate high school. When the legislation is implemented, 2.2 million public school students will be trained in CPR each year.

Michigan and South Carolina are among eight new states that have adopted high school curriculum or passed laws requiring CPR training to graduate starting in the 2017-2018 school year. The other six states are Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

CPR — a technique that includes chest compressions with or without rescue breaths — should be performed when someone’s heart stops, known as cardiac arrest.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), cardiac arrest can be caused by a malfunction of the heart’s electrical system, a heart attack, drug overdose, drowning or other causes. The lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage or death in 10 minutes or less. CPR can keep blood flowing to the brain and other organs, doubling or tripling a person’s chance of survival.

Yet, less than half of the more than 350,000 Americans who experience cardiac arrests outside a hospital each year receive bystander CPR before medical help arrives. Only about one in 10 survives.

Advocates in states with new CPR in school laws hope to see higher survival rates.

In some states such as Ohio, the new law requires students to receive training in CPR and use of an automated external defibrillator, or AED, a portable device that can shock the heart back to a normal rhythm.

Overall, 37 states plus Washington, D.C., have laws requiring hands-on CPR education before high school graduation. Laws also have been passed in California, Maine and Montana, but they fall short of criteria set by the American Heart Association.

Meantime, the AHA’s adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) courses will be updated in 2019 with the use of new technology.

The organization will implement an instrumented directive feedback device in all courses that teach adult CPR skills, effective Jan. 31, 2019 to assist participants with becoming proficient when a cardiac emergency occurs.