We are excited to share that North Dakota just became the 25th state in the nation to ensure their students will graduate every year with life-saving CPR skills. This means that North Dakota will put an estimated 7,000 life-savers into our communities each and every year. This victory was achieved by leveraging both opportunity and policy leadership. We applaud the long list of advocates who went the extra mile to include CPR skill training in middle school in addition to high school, which doubles the training opportunity, and we applaud lawmakers in North Dakota for recognizing the importance of including this skill in high school curriculum.
Over the past decade, AHA volunteers have successfully advanced PE as a graduation requirement, state funding for CPR in Schools, and cardiac/stroke systems of care. So when learning that the state was about to undertake updating state PE curriculum, volunteers and staff researched and learned that state law required schools to meet or exceed state curriculum content standards for required courses - “Each unit which must be made available under this section must meet or exceed the state content standards”.
Armed with that knowledge, two AHA You’re the Cure advocates - state advocacy chair Amy Walters and PE teacher Amy Heuer – served on the curriculum workgroup and coordinated with AHA staff at the local and national level to construct curriculum content standards for CPR skills training. This July 2015, those standards were approved by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. CPR skills are now within the level 1 required standards outcomes for both middle and high school curriculum.
This newest victory comes after a successful 2015 session during which AHA North Dakota advocates renewed a state appropriation for school CPR training, and extended the funding of $15 per student to not just the high school level but also to middle schools. AHA also partnered with NDSHAPE – the statewide physical education and activity professional association – in securing a strong school CPR presence. Continued collaboration is in the works this year for engaging all PE teachers in the state to learn the new quality PE standards which contain the CPR skill element.
Special recognition goes to youth advocate Kaycee Frey, Mandan ND, who testified for state funding and also help lead in educating statewide student council leaders on CPR in Schools. Also leading the effort were AHA volunteers Amy Walters, Amy Heuer and Dr. Robert Oatfield, and our strong partner coalition members, NDSHAPE, ND EMS Association, and the North Dakota Cardiac System of Care. Senate and House legislative champions made the state appropriation a reality and led to the ability to include CPR skills in new PE curriculum. Staff members supporting this work through recent years include June Herman, policy; Pamela Miller, grassroots; Kendra Krueger, project support, and Joan Enderle, past-communications lead. Special shout-out to South Dakota, who highlighted the potential of addressing this approach through quality PE standards work.
This policy victory, and life-saving opportunity, is an excellent example of what can be done when a common goal is identified and partners work together bringing everyone's knowledge, expertise, key legislative contacts and enthusiasm together to achieve our goal.