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CVA gets jump on new law requiring CPR/AED instruction in high school

Under new requirements signed into law on Oct. 21, New York schools will soon have to train all high school students in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of automated defibrillators (AEDs).

Central Valley Academy is not waiting to do the right thing.

Last fall and summer, CVA physical education teachers Jane Connors and Jonna Costin earned their instructor certificates so they could offer CVA juniors and seniors the American Heart Association’s Basic First Aid, CPR and AED course.  A quick visit to the guidance office was all it took for this first class interested students to get started.

“Our students will leave this course knowing basic first aid, how to perform CPR and how to use the AED,” said Mrs. Costin.

“The American Heart Association states that a bystander who administers CPR to a sudden cardiac arrest victim can as much as triple the victim’s chances of survival. Since four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home, there’s a good chance a rescuer will be helping his or her own loved one.”

Mrs. Connors and Mrs. Costin agree with the law—schools are excellent places to offer CPR and AED training.

“Many of our students can add this training to their resumes when applying for summer or future employment and when applying to schools. By teaching this course to our kids, we are strengthening our community’s safety and giving our students skills that they can carry into the future,” said Mrs. Costin.

The new law gives the Commissioner of Education 180 days to make recommendations to the Board of Regents in regard to requiring high schools to train students in CPR and the use of AEDs.

Overcoming misinformation

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with CPR—the process of chest compressions paired with rescue breaths designed to keep the brain oxygenated. After just four minutes without oxygen, the human brain begins to suffer permanent damage.

It’s a different story with AEDs. People watching television see the doctor shock a person who’s heart has stopped. People think that’s all it takes to save someone.

The truth is that AEDs simply restore a regular rhythm to a heart with an irregular beat. A victim without a heartbeat (asystole or “flat-line”) require CPR and cardiac stimulant drugs delivered by a health professional.

Even with training, it is not easy to know a victim’s condition. Volunteer responders do not have to make that determination.  They simply attach the AED. The device records the patient’s heartbeat and determine what steps need to be taken.

That’s the great thing about the new defibrillators. All you need to do is to perform CPR and follow the instructions the AED gives you.

Students in the class learn CPR, then practice using a mock AED. It performs like the real thing in all ways, except it cannot deliver a shock.

Plus first aid

The Central Valley Board of Education  believes students should have an understanding of basic first aid, so the new course includes more than CPR and AED training.

Students learn to recognize and respond to serious allergic reactions, strokes, heart attacks, animal bites, choking, burns, bleeding, sprains, broken bones, shock, concussions, and other injuries.

When students complete the course, they will have earned the American Heart Association Heartsaver® First Aid CPR AED course completion card.

“We decided to offer this as an elective because our physical education staff would like to make our physical education program bigger and better each year,” said Mrs. Connors.

“In the future we hope to have more of our physical education staff certified as American Heart Association instructors.”