On Thursday, N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue (seated in the photo at right) signed a law requiring students to complete cardiopulmonary resuscitation training before they graduate from high school, starting with the 2014-2015 school year.
Since 1997, state law has required basic education in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver in the public schools, but it hasn't been compulsory or documented.
State Rep. Becky Carney (D –Mecklenburg) and Rep. Carolyn Justice (R-New Hanover, Pender) co-sponsored the legislation aimed at saving more lives.
Carney was “saved by good Samaritans that knew CPR and responded quickly" after she suffered cardiac arrest during a legislative session in April 2009.
Mark Fleming, a lobbyist for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, moved Carney from her desk, where she had slumped over, and laid her on the floor. State Rep. Bob England, an Ellenboro Democrat and retired physician, helped perform CPR. And General Assembly police officers Will Smith and Willie Morris and Sgt. Forrest Johnson assisted with CPR and used an automated defibrillator.
"I am honored to be part of a lasting life-saving legacy for North Carolina,” Carney said in a news release. “Providing our youth with the power and confidence to save a life when it matters most may be the most valuable lesson a student can learn.”
North Carolina is the fifth state to pass such legislation. The State Board of Education will work with the American Heart Association to develop a plan for implementation.
Fewer than one-third of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR and less than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of the hospital live, according to the American Heart Association. Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after cardiac arrest, can vastly improve victims chance of survival, the association said.
“If we lived in a world where most everyone knew CPR and was ready to help, we could double, even triple their chance of survival," said Todd Baker, director of training and education at Southeastern Emergency Equipment.