House bill would require students have CPR training

House bill would require students have CPR training

Alyssa Sykuta

Photo by Alyssa Sykuta

Although 24 high school credits is enough to get into Missouri’s four-year public colleges and universities, Missouri House Representative Rick Stream believes just one more credit could be the difference between life and death for a cardiac arrest victim.

According to the American Heart Association, 80 percent of cardiac arrest victims’ lives lie in the hands of American bystanders and their reactions in a cardiac emergency. This same study shows that immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation more than doubles a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival, yet 70 percent of Americans feel helpless to act in such an emergency.

In light of these statistics, a newly proposed bill, known as HB 1337, in the Missouri House of Representatives would require high school students to receive formal CPR training in order to graduate.
Requests from the AHA compelled state representative  Stream to sponsor the bill. Stream said the course would only take 30 minutes to an hour — an amount he feels would not take away from other core subjects such as English, history, math and science. Though he said the time required for a CPR course would be short, Stream said the effect would be significant.
“What we’re trying to do is get the kids at a young age thinking about [CPR], get them trained, and if they’re in a position where they can help somebody they aren’t going to be afraid to try it,” Stream said. “They’ll have the knowledge and the training to make the attempt to try to save somebody.”
If the bill is passed through the state government, it will go into effect Aug. 28, 2012. However, the graduation requirement would first affect the students graduating with the class of 2015. Stream said this three year period would give schools plenty of time to implement a training course. According to RBHS guidance director Betsy Jones, the course would most likely be compiled with health or another science course.
But while Stream places great importance on the bill, not everyone thinks the legislation is actually necessary. Jones agrees making CPR a graduation requirement would be beneficial in theory, but believes it could put unneeded stress on students.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Jones said. “I think the more people we have that are certified in that area, the more lives you could save in a crisis. Is it necessary for everybody to have it? I don’t know. I think there is a delicate balance between what we think is a good idea and what in reality is putting more pressure on our teens. They already have so much on their plate.”
Though schools have not posed any opposition to the bill, Stream said there is only a slim chance a law will be passed on the issue. Because over 1000 bills are proposed each year and only about 100 are made laws, the CPR bill could very well be vetoed.
“The odds are slim that this bill — or any bill for that matter — are going to pass because it’s a 10 percent success ratio here,” Stream said. “But we’re optimistic that we can get this passed, and there seems to be no opposition from the school groups which would be the main impediment to passing a bill of this kind.”
By Alyssa Sykuta