May. 23, 2019

Before a student graduates from high school, they will be taught important subjects such as algebra, literature, social studies and health. As Chairman of the Pennsylvania House Education Committee, I know firsthand that the teachers in our Commonwealth work hard to ensure that our students have a well-rounded education.

However, many students in other states will be walking across the stage at graduation with more than just a diploma, they will also have life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.

According to the American Heart Association, each year more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital, with 90% dying before they reach a hospital or medical care facility. This statistic includes those who have had a cardiac arrest in school or at school-sponsored events.

In a cardiac arrest emergency, every second counts. Unfortunately, only about 46% of people who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital get the immediate help that they need before professional help arrives. If administered immediately after cardiac arrest, CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

The House Education Committee recently passed legislation that would require CPR instruction for high school students. Senate Bill 115 would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to consult with stakeholders knowledgeable in the content area to design model curriculum, age-appropriate materials and guidelines for integrating CPR instruction into existing curriculum. Professional educators would be able to utilize these materials to deliver high-quality CPR instruction in a way that is most appropriate at the local level.

Additionally, both the state Senate and House have unanimously passed this commonsense legislation. Currently, Pennsylvania is one of 12 states that does not have this type of policy. Performing CPR training is a very important task and life skill, yet less than 20% of Americans are equipped to perform CPR during a medical emergency. When CPR training is implemented as part of the curriculum required in high schools, there is an amazing opportunity to change these sobering statistics and empower the next generation with the lifesaving skills they need to respond in an impactful manner during an emergency.

Traditional school subjects are important, but few skills are more important than those that can help save a life.

Empowering our youth with this lifesaving CPR training in schools will dramatically increase the number of first responders in our Commonwealth communities each year and save countless lives.

This legislation is a top priority of the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. It is also supported by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society and Independence Blue Cross.

Representative Curt Sonney
4th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Brooke Haskell