Bill would require hands-only CPR training in high schools

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Learning to save a life can take just 30 minutes, and all you need are your hands.

Senate Bill 115 just passed the chamber’s Education Committee unanimously. The measure would require hands-only CPR training for every high school student in Pennsylvania. It was proposed by Delaware County Republican Sen. Tom Killion.

Advocates now want a full Senate vote to make the bill law.

“Getting on that chest and doing those compressions increases their chances of survivability times two or three,” said Steven Poffenberger, of Geisinger EMS in Camp Hill. “Bystander CPR is the key to sudden cardiac arrest survivability.”

Poffenberger has been working with the American Heart Association to get SB 115 passed.

It proposes a one-time, 30-minute training for each student.

“You want to try to do 100 to 120 per minute, at a two-inch depth,” Poffenberger said, demonstrating CPR on a dummy.

Those who are apprehensive about trying to help someone and accidentally hurting them shouldn’t worry, he said.

“It’s better to be alive with a cracked rib than nobody doing this and reducing your chances of survival,” said Poffenberger. “The confidence to know what to do instead of standing around like, ‘I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do’.”

Graduating high school students are the perfect population to train, according to Ashley Parsons of the American Heart Association.

“What better time than when you’re graduating high school and entering out into the world to have this very applicable life skill?” Parsons asked.

The association estimates 350,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest each year. Less than 10 percent survive.

“People learn this skill, it’s muscle memory, riding a bike if you will, so they can apply this throughout their entire life,” Parsons said.

“The outcome, the benefit of it you really can’t measure in dollars and cents. You really can’t,” said Poffenberger.

The association hopes the bill reaches the governor’s desk by the end of this year. It’s not entirely clear yet how funding for this potential training might work.

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