Required CPR Training for Students: New Research Proves Its Worth

November 16, 2018

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Dawn M. Calderon, D.O. contributes to topics such as Cardiac/Heart Health.

People who know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can save lives in the event of an emergency. One way states are hoping to increase the number of potential lifesavers is by requiring high school students to learn CPR, along with how to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED). New Jersey is one state that mandates this medical education, and new preliminary research that was presented at the American Heart Association’s Resuscitation Science Symposium confirms such programs are effective.

According to cases studied between 2013 and 2017, 59 percent were in states that required high school CPR training. The researchers found that 11.3 percent of people who suffered cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survived and were discharged in states that had the laws, compared to 8.9 percent for states without the laws enacted. Of those who suffered cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, 41.3 percent received bystander CPR before emergency medical services arrived; in states without CPR education laws, just 36.1 percent of cardiac arrest patients received the early intervention.

Promoting CPR training among students has always been a passion project for Dawn M. Calderon, D.O., chief of cardiology at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. She has seen many children over the years who were brought to the emergency department experiencing cardiac arrest, an electrical issue that causes the heart to stop beating. When the heart stops, blood does not flow to organs. This includes the brain, which needs it most. Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, but some people are at an increased risk due to genetic factors.

Jump-starting the heart via CPR or AED use can get it working again and save a person’s life. It can also prevent long-term brain injury.

“You’re chances of surviving are three times if you have a bystander that knows CPR,” Calderon said.

REAL-WORLD TRAINING

Calderon and the community outreach team began planning Hackensack Meridian Health’s high school CPR training program in 2013. It was launched in 2014, around the same time New Jersey passed Janet’s Law, which required all K-12 schools to include an AED readily available. Together with the American Heart Association, Calderon and others provided testimony to lawmakers in Trenton, helping to pass the law.

Since then, Hackensack Meridian Health’s Community of Lifesavers program has trained about 25,000 middle and high school students at more than 250 locations in the state. The Women’s Heart Fund has helped make the program a reality, she said.

New Jersey has been at the forefront when it comes to medical education and cardiac wellness in children, she added.

Until there are better ways to screen people at risk for cardiac arrest, we must be prepared to treat it, Calderon said. The program educating high school students increases the number of people who know CPR and can respond in life-threatening situations.

“There’s really lots of opportunities to learn CPR,” she said. All ages can benefit from training, and do not need to be certified to know how to perform CPR or use a defibrillator.

“It’s a win–win for everyone,” Calderon said.

Beyond the Community of Lifesavers program, Hackensack Meridian Health provides several opportunities for people to learn CPR. To find a training event near you, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/Events.

Dr. Calderon practices in Neptune, NJ. Call 732-776-3838 for an appointment.

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