Sahar Zadeh, a junior at Lexington’s Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, thinks it’s important that a new law will be in effect in the upcoming school year requiring public high schools to provide CPR training for students.
“It is imperative that we know how to properly respond in the face of an emergency in the same fashion of that of a tornado drill,” said Sahar, a member of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team.
Schools must provide training for students enrolled in a health, physical education, or Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps course that meets the physical education graduation requirement.
Debbie Boian, Fayette County Public Schools health and wellness coordinator, said the Red Cross obtained a grant for the school district that will allow Red Cross officials to train teachers and other staff to demonstrate CPR to students.
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In addition to the Red Cross effort, Boian said in each Fayette school building, people are certified in CPR and they can also demonstrate to students.
The new law, which was sponsored by state Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, says high schools must demonstrate CPR to students, not that students must be certified, which would have required a certain amount of training and passing a test as proof of competency. The training does not have to be provided by a certified instructor, under the law.
"I believe it’s a good start,” Boian said of the new law. “I think eventually we should give everybody the opportunity to be certified.”
Lawmakers supporting the bill thought training Kentucky students in cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedures would increase students' ability to respond to emergency situations at school, home, and public places and benefit Kentucky communities by rapidly increasing the number of people ready to respond to sudden cardiac arrest, a leading cause of death.
Under the new law, the training must be based on the American Heart Association's Guidelines for CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care or other nationally recognized, evidenced-based guidelines.
A school administrator can waive the requirement that a student receive instruction if the student has a disability or is physically unable to perform CPR.
The training must make students aware of the purpose of an automated external defibrillator and its ease and safety of use.
The legislation did not require a school to have an automated external defibrillator on its premises, although it says that having one available for emergencies is encouraged.
Rachel Belin, director of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team, said Trenton Fryman, a student who just graduated from North Oldham High School, played a key role in advocating for the CPR legislation that passed in the 2016 session.
Rosemary Alden, a member of the student voice team and a senior at West Jessamine High School, said that knowing CPR is a valuable skill.
“It further equips students to act quickly in situations where every second counts — in a way that is more real than AP and final exams,” Rosemary said. “I am proud that Kentucky is now part of 56 percent of the student body nationwide that will be trained in these life-saving skills.”
Madison Ortega, a freshman at Rowan County High School, said “the implementation of this new law has the very real potential of saving lives and all that is truly needed from our high schools is time.”
“By assuring that the majority of Kentuckians have at the very least been taught how to perform CPR in the case that it is needed, I believe we will be doing an incredible thing for our state and its people. As a Kentucky student myself, I am personally glad we are being given this learning opportunity,” Madison said.