A Lesson in Saving Lives: New Law Requires CPR Training Before High School Graduation

August 25, 2015

Mercy and the Chickasaw Nation to purchase CPR training kits for area high schools

Every hour, 38 people go into cardiac arrest in the United States outside of a hospital, which can be caused by a heart attack, drowning, overdose or another type of trauma. Only about 10 percent of people survive.

The American Heart Association (AHA), Mercy Hospital Ada and the Chickasaw Nation hope to improve those survival rates by providing CPR training to young people in Ada and the surrounding communities. 

“If you have a sudden cardiac event outside of the hospital, typically about 40 percent of those people receive CPR by a bystander,” said Lori Wightman, president of Mercy Hospital Ada. “We want to increase that likelihood because your chance of survival doubles or triples if CPR is immediately provided.”

During the 2014 legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a law requiring schools to provide mandatory basic CPR training to all high school students prior to graduation. The new law takes effect this school year.

“In any type of cardiac event, you can save a life in just a matter of minutes by knowing CPR,” said Calley McGehee Herth, director of communications for AHA’s southwest affiliate in Oklahoma City. “We are, in essence, creating an army of young people who are going to have the basic concepts and skill set of CPR if they ever encounter anyone having some kind of cardiac event.”

The legislation requires schools to provide the training, but does not provide set curriculum or equipment to help schools meet the requirement. That’s where AHA and community partners like Mercy Hospital Ada and the Chickasaw Nation come in to help. 

AHA has created CPR in the Schools™ kits that schools or community partners can purchase to teach students CPR. The kits include inflatable manikins, kneel mats, training DVDs, replacement parts, cleaning utensils and a facilitator guide, among other items. The program is designed to be hands-only, which Herth said has been proven as effective as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Mercy Hospital Ada purchased kits for the high schools in Ada, Byng, Latta and Stratford, and the Chickasaw Nation will purchase five kits for schools within its tribal boundaries.

“This innovative program will offer students the opportunity to learn lifesaving skills they will carry with them for a lifetime,” said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. “We are very pleased to work with Mercy and the American Heart Association on an endeavor which could give students the information and confidence they need to take action in an emergency situation.”

As a health care leader in the community, Wightman said Mercy is also happy to support such a vital program.

“We’re interested in saving lives and putting in the hands of everyone the tools that are needed to increase survival for a sudden cardiac event,” she said. “By purchasing these kits for local schools, we can do just that.”

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