High School Students Should Learn CPR in School


Guest Blogger: Yara Altaher. Yara is a student at the University of California, Irvine and will receive her Bachelors of Science degree in Public Health Sciences. Yara is also an intern for the American Heart Association.


Picture yourself coming home one afternoon only to find a loved one on the floor in a state of cardiac arrest. You are afraid and nervous; however, you calm yourself down because you remember you took cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training back in high school a few years ago and you end up saving your loved one’s life. Now, picture yourself in that exact situation but you lack the CPR skills necessary to help your loved one. The latter scenario emphasizes the important effect CPR can have on saving a life.


California is not among the 27 states that by law make CPR training mandatory in high schools. CPR training will increase the survival rates of out of hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA), will increase the number of bystanders equipped with necessary CPR skills, and teach an important life skill to high school students.


The AHA states that cardiac arrest, a sudden loss of heart function, is a leading cause of death in the United States. Cardiac arrest can affect those who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. The AHA reports that almost 326,000 OHCA occur every year and sadly most don’t survive. Increasing public health knowledge of CPR can help reduce the large number of deaths due to OHCA. An AHA Science Advisory states that bystanders who are equipped with the skills necessary for CPR are important in determining the survival rates of OHCA. In fact, survival rates can double or even triple if individuals other than health care professionals utilize CPR until advanced medical treatment arrives at the scene.


Targeting high school students is important because they represent a large percentage of the community. Students who are trained in CPR will increase both the number of CPR bystanders and the community response to OHCA. The AHA reports that four out of five OHCA occur at home. Thus, students trained in CPR will be able to utilize these skills to possibly saving a loved one’s life at home. High school students could also potentially be present during a medical emergency that requires immediate attention outside of school.


During my years of education, I was taught to excel and learn in subjects such as mathematics, science, history and writing. I still have conversations with my peers to this day discussing how the education system lacks in teaching important life skills that students will remember and incorporate into their lives. Being CPR certified is one of those fundamental life skills that could potentially help save a life.


To date more than one million students across the United States will be CPR certified prior to high school graduation. It makes me wonder why California has not taken initiative into making CPR certification a requirement for graduation. Learning mathematics, science, history and writing are very important subjects to learn; however, being able to potentially save a life is just as important.


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