Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, American Heart Association Hawaii Government Relations Director
Just a few weeks ago Arizona became the 32nd state to insure that all high school students will receive CPR training in schools. States that have CPR training policies will have thousands of new potential lifesavers added to their communities each year.
The American Heart Association’s Hawaii Division Board of Directors and volunteers want Hawaii to join the 32 other states that have added CPR training to the high school experience and continue to make passage of a CPR in Schools policy a priority for Hawaii public high schools. The goal is to secure a Hawaii Board of Education (BOE) policy that would make CPR training part of Hawaii high schools’ health class curriculum. Since a health class credit is already needed for high school graduation in Hawaii, such a policy would result in virtually every high school student learning the important life-saving technique.
One of our most active volunteers on this issue is Emergency Room Physician Elizabeth Char. Dr. Char and AHA Hawaii Division Board Member Paul Yokota recently presented information to the Hawaii BOE about the AHA’s work to-date to provide Hawaii high schools with the equipment, materials and teacher training that will be needed to implement the policy. While many schools offer CPR training on a volunteer basis, the AHA pointed out that policy is needed to ensure that all students receive the training and that the training lessons are sustained.
Char presented with passion on the issue:
“Currently 32 states have added CPR training in high school policies. It would be great to see all states pass CPR in schools policy as part of the nationwide effort to improve survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest. Hawaii can achieve better survival rates through a better educated community, and that includes our students, and professional rescuers. There are many states that have much better survival rates than Hawaii’s, so we know we can do better.”
Cardiac arrest can occur with no warning or symptoms from an electrical short circuit in the heart. No one is immune to it - not even children, athletes and seemingly healthy adults. However, cardiac arrest can also be related to blockages of the coronary arteries, as might occur with a heart attack. Each year, more than 326,000 emergency medical services-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States, and of this figure an estimated 6,300 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen to children. “Hands-only” CPR, which is being recommended for Hawaii schools, can be taught in less than 30 minutes, or the time it takes to conduct one health class.
Please watch for future action alerts for opportunities to lend your voice of support to the AHA’s efforts to pass CPR in Schools policy for Hawaii students.