Let’s Train Them

CPR is increasingly becoming a requirement for high school graduation throughout the country, and personally I could not be happier.  I love seeing news stories about this topic.

When we are dispatched to a cardiac arrest in our system, one of the first questions I ask myself is “is anyone doing CPR?”  I usually find that compressions are being done in about one out of every three “workable” cardiac arrests.  More times than not, the thing most often preventing CPR being done is the fact that the caller has difficulty getting the patient from where they are to the floor.

The second most frequent one is that the caller is too scared or just unwilling or unable to do it because they are too hysterical.  I completely understand this.  EMS professionals walk into these situations with training and the expectation that they will be there to bring order to the chaos.  It is what we do.  It is part of who we are and what our profession is all about.  One cannot have that same expectation of the general public.

Should a bystander be willing to do CPR, and they are untrained, they will get a crash course on the phone of how to do hands only CPR in the form of prearrival instructions from an Emergency Medical Dispatch certified person on the other end of the phone.  It is virtually impossible to make sure that the person on the other end of the phone is following the instructions as they should.  Of those one third that get compressions, probably half of them are done well.  The plus side though is something is better than nothing when it comes to cardiac arrest care.

Here we sit in 2014 with a generation of people (that arguably I am on the older side of being part of) who are consumed by their cell phones.  People live in their phones, and use them to make potential medical emergencies someone else’s problem.  Gone are the days of people moving away from these sorts of things.  They call, and then they stand around to see what happens.  Rarely do people get involved and try to help.  We need to start changing this.

Requiring CPR training for high school graduation is a great start.  Let’s hit people when they are young and impressionable.  If just a fraction of them go out into the “real world” and use the training they received, then in my opinion that is a win.  Putting a CPR card in each of their pockets is an extremely cheap venture for a school district to undertake.  Teaching hands only CPR and not providing a card is virtually free.

Parents need to realize that they can certainly help out as well.  When hiring a babysitter, how many people as them if they are CPR trained?  If they say yes, how many of them ask for a card to be produced?  If the answer is no, move on to the next person.

Furthermore, our state and county governments should start looking at giving tax breaks to companies that provide CPR training for their employees, or have a certain number of AED’s on their premesis based on a certain square footage.  Let’s encourage everyone to get involved.

My dad was involved in local government in Island Heights, NJ for a few years.  I always used to tell him how great it would be to create what some would call the safest community in the country.  Imagine if you will, if households were given tax breaks based on the number of people that lived there who were CPR trained.  Imagine knowing that if you were out mowing your lawn and collapsed, the person across the street doing the same thing could save your life.  While it would be one heck of an undertaking, it would also be a huge success if they could pull it off.

But I digress. . .

The point of this whole article is take the time to talk to your local government, your school board, whoever you have to.  About a dozen states require CPR training for high school graduation.  Let’s push the issue.  Let’s get it as close to 50 as we can.

  • Katie

    Great article as I am learning how frequent sudden cardiac arrests are in the US and Canada (both very high daily numbers). Awesome to hear there are states that require high school students to complete CPR training, I do not believe any provinces in Canada yet require the training, although there are many organizations pushing for school training programs. Agreed on keeping on keeping on the push, we all have to make this a priority.