By Danielle Nelson
*This article is posted The Express Times website.
An American Red Cross instructor, center, leads training in February 2008 in Gloucester County, New Jersey, on cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator. (South Jersey Times Photo)
New Jersey high school students must be trained in CPR as a requirement of graduation, under a bill sent last week to Gov. Chris Christie.
The survival rate can double or triple for a person suffering a heart attack, if CPR is performed immediately, according to the American Heart Association; only 32 percent of heart attack victims are able to receive CPR from a trained bystander.
That’s why state Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, introduced legislation requiring public and charter high school students receive CPR training and hands-on training on the use of an automated external defibrillator, or AED. The measure — A2072 — dictates that schools incorporate the training as part of their comprehensive health and physical education curriculum.
“Knowing how to properly perform CPR and use a defibrillator are basic life-saving skills that all graduates should have when they leave our public schools,” Allen said in a statement. “If there’s one lesson we should want students to carry with them the rest of their lives it is knowing how to save a life.”
The legislation comes after a Burlington Township Middle School student in June collapsed in gym class but was revived after staff performed CPR and used a defibrillator. And in March, a 15-year old Pascack Hills High School student was resuscitated after a former student performed CPR and a staff utilized a defibrillator, according to Allen.
Brian Fogelson, superintendent of the North Warren Regional School District, said he’s concerned about the measure’s potential cost despite the legislation stating training could be based on free available instructional programs.
“If our instructors do need to be trained and certified in AED instruction, that would be a cost to the district,” he said.
Once the bill is signed and the New Jersey Department of Education issues the mandate, Fogelson said enforcing the law as part of the health curriculum for the appropriate grade level would not be difficult.
Warren Hills Regional School District Superintendent Thomas Altonjy said his district is waiting on the official mandate before discussing how to implement it in its health curriculum.
“Once we get official word from the state, our director of curriculum and instruction supervisor and health teachers will have to sit down and figure out a place where it will fit in one of the years curriculum and find out where it’s most appropriate,” Altonjy said. “If it’s a mandate, it’s a mandate.”
Allen spokesman George Mast said Christie has 45 days from June 23, when both the Assembly and Senate passed the bill, to sign it into law. Once signed, it would be implemented for the 2014-15 school year, he said.
In 2012, the governor signed into law a bill requiring that all schools be equipped with a defibrillator by this September.
“Now that all schools will soon have an AED device on site, it’s time we give students the knowledge of how to properly use them should they ever be placed in a situation where they have to act,” Allen said in a statement.
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