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New law requires high schoolers get CPR training before graduation

Governor Inslee signs SHB 1556 into law requiring all Washington state high school students to receive CPR training before they graduate. (Governor's Office)

Imagine a state full of 18-year-olds who know how to save your life.

It just might be a reality soon after Governor Jay Inslee signed a new law Wednesday requiring all students receive CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training before they graduate.

The bill, sponsored by first responder and Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim), allows for flexibility so that schools can individually determine how to tailor a CPR program for its students.

“They don’t have to go through a two-hour course and be certified and carry a card in their wallet to know how to save somebody’s life and that’s the whole point of this,” said Suzanne Apodaca with the Seattle-based Nick of Time Foundation.

Apodaca and her sister created the foundation after her then 16-year old nephew Nick died from sudden cardiac arrest. The non-profit teaches CPR in schools and advocates for increased awareness and implementation of CPR programs and the installation of automatic external defibrillators in all public places.

According to the American Heart Association, CPR can double or even triple a victim’s chances of survival. The AHA also says almost 36,000 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital and only 9.5 percent survive, “often because they don’t receive timely CPR.”

“In essence, we really are training the next generation of first responders,” Apodaca said. “Sudden cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, to anyone. It’s doesn’t just affect old people. It doesn’t matter where you are, how fit you are. So the chances of having to do CPR on somebody in your life is really, really high.”

The training will emphasize recent guidelines for hands-only CPR, which statistics have found to be equally effective as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

If you do two inches deep and 100 times a minute, that is just as effective so for everyday people like you and me, it’s super easy and this should help save a lot of lives,” she said.

In addition to championing the new CPR requirements, the Nick of Time Foundation also led the effort to install AED’s in all Seattle schools. Apodaca said the organization will next focus on legislation requiring the devices be placed in all schools and more public places to further reduce the risk of people dying from sudden cardiac arrest like Nick.

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