According to the American Heart Association, at least 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest each year in the United States. This is a rate of one every 90 seconds.
Sadly, 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed.
This alarming statistic could hit close to home, because home is where 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur. Shocking statistics such as this prompted Gov. Beverly Perdue to sign into law a bill requiring students to show proficiency in CPR before graduating.
This means in addition to earning a diploma, North Carolina students in the class of 2015 and beyond will show that they have been trained in CPR. Many feel that this could be a step in the right direction as less than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive. Research also shows that for every minute CPR is delayed, it decreases the survival rate by 10 percent.
The North Carolina State Board of Education has required four components concerning the new legislation including awareness, 911 procedures, compressions and automated external defibrillator knowledge. The CPR instruction is for adults and youths only, and not infant CPR.
Students will have to pass the American Heart Association and American Red Cross skills test that demonstrates that they can perform 100 chest compressions per minute at a depth of 2 inches. Although CPR will be taught, certification will not be required of either students or teachers. Documentation will be electronically recorded to ensure all students successfully complete the required CPR instruction.
The Public Schools of Robeson County will be conducting CPR instruction in the eighth grade as part of the New Essential Standards Curriculum. The district has purchased CPR mannequins for all middle and high schools. The new mannequins will allow students CPR Graduation Requirement to successfully meet the skills demonstration requirement of the new legislation. To address instruction for current ninth-grade students, training will be completed in high school health during Physical Education courses. Student records will have to be screened and monitored carefully to ensure completion.
CPR training has been taught as a part of the eighth-grade curriculum since 1997, but had not been monitored as a requirement for graduation. According to Gov. Perdue’s office, North Carolina is one of five states with the requirement.
The most recent information from the Robeson County Health Department shows that heart disease is the leading cause of death within the county. In 2008, Robeson County also had the highest obesity rate in the state of North Carolina. These factors directly relate to the increased need for CPR training.
Statistics shows only 26 percent of people who are in cardiac arrest receive CPR. Anyone can learn CPR, and everyone should. Put very simply: The life you save with CPR is mostly likely to be someone you love.
Jason Suggs is the physical education curriculum supervisor for the Public Schools of Robeson County.