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EDITORIAL: CPR is the ultimate life skill

We’ve all heard the CPR statistics that show how this life-saving skill can mean the difference between life and death. According to the American Heart Association, “effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.”

And teaching CPR to high schoolers before sending them out into the world seems like a no-brainer, right? The advocates gathered in the lobby of the legislative building on Tuesday, June 3, thought so, and they were pushing lawmakers to pass a bill that would make CPR training mandatory for graduation.

It’s such a no-brainer, it makes you wonder why this bill has been kicking around the legislative halls for more than a dozen years without really going anywhere.

Perhaps it’s because New Yorkers have grown increasingly weary of laws that mandate specific actions without any additional funding to make them a reality. Maybe they have concerns about the appearance of state lawmakers implementing curriculum, although the latest bill has attempted to address that by putting the final decision in the hands of the commissioner of education and the board of regents. It could be that some people just don’t like being told what to do.

Those are all valid points, especially coming at a time when schools are struggling with Common Core implementation and its demands on classroom time, but the bottom line is the time has come to pass a CPR in Schools bill.

People might assume such a bill is unnecessary because high schoolers are already being taught the technique in health class. They aren’t. Or they might be. Or they could be getting some information but not really any practice. That’s the problem — without any guidelines, there is a lack of consistency among districts in their approach to CPR training. Making CPR a graduation requirement would mean that we would know, without a doubt, that every graduating class is creating a wider pool of CPR-trained bystanders. That’s something that could chip away at one of the Heart Association’s more chilling statistics: only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander. That seems reason enough to find a half-hour of instruction time to get that information to students.

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