Sean Burns has spent the last several years working to make his community safer by raising funds to place AEDs at as many schools as possible. It’s a project Burns began after learning about a fellow high school hockey player, Tyler Symes, who suffered cardiac arrest while on the ice. Now Burns is taking his mission a step further, encouraging all high schools throughout the community to teach CPR to students before graduation. It’s a move Burns says, will help save more lives.
Nearly 383,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 11 percent of them survive, most likely because they don’t receive timely CPR. Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates.
“As a high school hockey player, I know firsthand that sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone in our community. My friend, Tyler Symes is alive today thanks to the quick thinking of bystanders, CPR and access to an AED,” said Burns. But by teaching students CPR we can save thousands of lives, creating a community with young adults trained to give cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMTs arrive.”
Allyson Perron, Sr. Director of Government Relations with the American Heart Association explained, “If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest, your best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until EMTs arrive. In less than the time it takes to watch a TV sitcom, we can give students the skills they need to help save a person’s life with CPR. Teaching students CPR will add lifesavers to our community, year after year, and everyone benefits.”
Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time. Sudden cardiac arrest is most often caused by a heart attack, but it can also be caused by trauma, an overdose, or drowning. In sudden cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating; blood stops circulating; oxygen stops flowing to the brain; and the victim stops breathing. Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates.
“CPR is the lifesaving solution,” said Perron. “Many people are alive today because individuals trained in CPR – including youth and adults who received that training in school –gave someone CPR until EMTs arrived. We need to create a generation in which every brother, sister, son, daughter, friend, and complete stranger is trained in CPR at school and is prepared to save lives.”
Currently, 16 states throughout the country, including our neighbors in Rhode Island and Vermont, teach CPR as a graduation requirement by working it into existing classes, investing 30 minutes in today’s students, who are then ready to become tomorrow’s lifesavers. Studies have shown that students are capable of learning and effectively performing CPR.
The American Heart Association is making is easy to help create the next generation of lifesavers with the CPR in Schools Training Kit. The simple and portable kit contains everything needed to train 10 students at once in CPR. The process, which includes a 30-minute CPR lesson where students or faculty practice on a manikin while watching skills performed correctly on the DVD, can then be repeated to train a class, a grade - or even an entire school! To join the American Heart Association’s work to teach students in your school district CPR visit heart.org/CPRinschools or contact Allyson Perron at 781- 373-4522.