Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director
Look to your left. Look to your right. Would the people around you know how to save your life if you suffered from sudden cardiac arrest? You can make sure that across Oregon there are thousands of people who would know what to do. That’s the whole idea behind our CPR in Schools campaign.
The majority of sudden cardiac arrests happen outside of the hospital. That means away from Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and surrounded by regular people, just like us. In many cases, it’s our neighbors, family members or even complete strangers who we rely on to save our lives. (If you haven’t read Raoul’s story about how his wife saved his life with CPR, take a look.) It’s crucial that we know the one skill that could save a life in the event of cardiac arrest: CPR.
That’s why we’re working to bring more lifesavers to our community by making sure no high school student in Oregon graduates without learning the life-saving skill of CPR. Doing so will prepare more than 45,000 Oregon students each year to administer CPR in an emergency.
The facts support themselves:
- Many cardiac arrest victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating.
- Each year, nearly 424,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, and only 10.4% of these victims survive.
- Yet, when a CPR-trained bystander is near, they can double, even triple these victims’ survival rates by giving victims the help they need until the EMTs arrive.
- Three to five minutes is a matter of life and death for sudden cardiac arrest victims. If victims don’t receive CPR or an AED in this timeframe, their survival rates drop.
So far, 15 states across the country have passed laws requiring every high school student to be CPR-trained before graduation, and it’s paying off. Our Pacific Northwest neighbor, Washington State, passed a CPR in Schools policy in 2013.
And just last month, Morgan, a 15-year-old student in Spokane, Washington, saved her grandfather’s life. Morgan learned CPR on a Thursday at school, and on Monday, she made the courageous act of saving a loved one who needed help. You can read more about Morgan’s story, here.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
Here in Oregon, we’re working to pass a CPR in Schools policy in 2015, but we need your help. We have to educate our community leaders and decision makers. We need to share your stories of survival or rescue. And we need you to let your elected officials know that you support this effort. Contact Sarah.Higginbotham@heart.org for more information about speaking up and getting your community involved.
Let’s save more lives. Let’s train the next generation of lifesavers. Let’s teach Oregon’s students to be CPR smart.