Mich. Gov. signs law requiring CPR to be taught in schools

Michigan students will learn and practice hands-only CPR and how to use an AED

Holland Sentinel

HOLLAND, Mich. — Legislation championed by state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, ensuring that schools offer instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was recently signed into law by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

Michigan students will learn and practice hands-on CPR, which includes pumping the chest to circulate blood to vital organs such as the brain and heart. They'll also become familiar with automated external defibrillators, battery-operated mobile devices that can deliver a shock to a cardiac arrest victim's heart. Schuitmaker's bill adds this training to the existing health education content standards.

"This is already a common practice throughout many school districts across the state," Schuitmaker said. "Teaching this lifesaving skill takes very little time and can be easily incorporated into the existing health class or physical education curriculums."

Schuitmaker noted that most districts are able to offer these programs with little to no cost by using volunteer services from local police, firefighters and paramedics.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrests outside a hospital each year, and only 12 percent survive. For each minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation the chances of survival decrease by 7 to 10 percent.

"When cardiac arrest happens, you have very little time to respond before the effects become permanent or even fatal," Schuitmaker said. "Adding more and more trained bystanders to our communities each year increases the chance of having someone present who can perform lifesaving measures until professional help arrives."

The measure will help support organizations like the Wes Leonard Heart Team, which buys AEDs for schools. Wes Leonard died in 2011 after scoring the game-winning shot for the Fennville High School basketball team. He died from cardiac arrest because of an enlarged heart.

Now that the bill has been signed, Michigan joins more than half of the country in requiring CPR instruction be taught in school.

"I introduced the bill toward the end 2015 and through a lot of hard work and collaboration with medical and emergency response professionals, along with representatives from the American Heart Association and my colleagues in the Legislature, we were able to get this to the governor's desk for approval." Schuitmaker said.

The bill is now Public Act 388 of 2016. It will take effect at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.

Copyright 2017 Holland Sentinel

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