Henry Clay senior says he plans to train 500 classmates in CPR

Will Freeman
Will Freeman

In February, Henry Clay High School senior Will Freeman said he plans to help train all 500 graduating seniors at his Lexington school in Hands-Only CPR.

"It's just a simple skill that anyone can learn," said Will, 17.

Hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a two-step technique that involves calling 911 and pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives. The simplified method of CPR requires no mouth-to-mouth breathing and does not require certification, according to an American Heart Association news release.

Freeman gave a demonstration of the technique Tuesday in Frankfort when state Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, announced his legislation that would require a basic CPR awareness training for every Kentucky high school student.

Will said he was inspired to learn CPR and to train others when a young friend of his brother was saved by CPR at a birthday party.

"I talked to my principal and people at the Heart Association to work out this plan to teach all the seniors at my school," Will said.

Twelve other states have passed CPR-in-schools legislation, said Tonya Chang, Kentucky director of government relations for the American Heart Association.

CPR training is part of Kentucky's Core Academic Standards for high school health education, and health education is a requirement for high school graduation. Even though CPR instruction is included in the curriculum, some schools don't provide the instruction, Greer said Tuesday.

"I think this is a skill that our kids can have throughout the state that will no doubt save lives," Greer said in an interview about House Bill 205. There are more than 4,000 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Kentucky each year, the lawmaker said.

Matt Rountree, a spokesman for the Kentucky chapter of the American Heart Association, said the legislation would give school officials the flexibility to determine which method of CPR they want to teach.

The American Heart Association recommends CPR training in schools to reinforce the importance of recognizing a possible cardiac arrest and providing high-quality chest compressions with minimal interruptions. Training should also include hands-on practice and an awareness of the purpose of an AED, a device designed for use by non-medical bystanders that can restore a normal heart rhythm in many situations.

Studies have shown that training can be done in as little as 30 minutes and at little to no cost, heart association officials said in a news release.