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September 26, 2016

Calif. Gov. signs bill to teach CPR in high schools

By EMS1 Staff

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1719 to teach CPR in schools into law Sept. 24. The new law makes California the 35th state to provide CPR training in high schools, along with Washington, D.C.

“As an Emergency Medical Technician for over 30 years, I know that CPR is one of the most important life skills a person can have,” Calif. Assemblymember Rodriguez, author of the bill said. “By teaching CPR in high school, we are sending students into the world with essential, life-saving skills.”

High schools that require a course in health education for graduation will begin to offer instruction in performing CPR in the 2018-2019 school year. Students can be taught the fundamental life-saving skill of hands-only CPR in 30 minutes or less.

“I am so glad I learned CPR at a young age because it helped save my friend’s life,” said 13-year-old Skylar Berry, an American Heart Association volunteer who learned CPR at a camp organized by her local Sacramento Metro Fire department. “We should all be prepared to act in the case of an emergency and I’m happy other students will now get the chance to learn CPR.”

Berry was at a birthday party when a group playing in the pool realized one of their friends was at the bottom. As they brought him to the surface, Skylar, who was 11 at the time, remembered the CPR training she’d received and immediately sprang into action. Since then, she’s been a strong advocate for teaching CPR to her fellow classmates and created the “Stayin’ Alive” club at her school to convey the importance of learning the lifesaving skill.

With the passage of AB1719, tragedies like the loss of Debbie Wilson's daughter can be averted.  

“If someone who had been near my daughter at the time of her collapse had known how to conduct cardiopulmonary resuscitation, her life could have been saved,” said Debbie Wilson, AB 1719 advocate and mother of a 17-year-old daughter who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during tennis practice. “I want all students to have a chance to learn this life-saving skill so other families don’t suffer the same heart-break that ours did.”

Supporters of the bill included AHA, the American Red Cross, the California Professional Firefighters, the California State Parent Teacher Association, the California School Boards Association and California School Employees Association.

"So many lives have been saved because of the heroic act of bystanders who performed CPR. On the other hand, there are just as many stories of people who did not make it because no one nearby took action,” said Kathy Magliato, MD, AHA Western States Affiliate Board Member and a cardiothoracic surgeon. “With CPR in Schools, we have the opportunity to create a generation in which teens and young adults in California is trained in CPR as part of their health education and prepared to save lives. AB 1719 will add thousands of qualified lifesavers to our state."


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