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Schools now required to teach CPR

February 29, 2016—Health classes last week at Cohoes High School were devoted to teaching students cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using an automated external defibrillator (AED), as part of a state mandate that went into effect in October. The mandate requires all high schools in New York to provide instruction of hands-only CPR and how to use AEDs to students.

The class was taught by School Nurse Alex Beaury, who was formerly a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Peter's hospital. She was a part of the Code Team, which responded to all emergencies in the hospital such as patients who stop breathing, go into cardiac arrest or have a stroke, for example.A student does chest compressions

“This CPR mandate is so important for our students, because they’ll soon be living on their own and they need to know how to respond to an emergency,” said Ms. Beaury. “Whether at college, out in the working world or their social world, they will know how to help in any crisis situation.”

Students conveyed their satisfaction with the training to Ms. Beaury and teachers throughout the High School. Many agreed they would be more comfortable knowing what to do, starting with calling 911.


What does the CPR mandate mean for schools?

  • Students must be provided with the hands-only CPR and AED training before they graduate, including this year’s seniors, who will need the training before graduation.
  • Students only need to be provided this instruction once during their high school careers.
  • Teachers administering the training are not required to be certified in CPR or operation of AEDs.
  • Schools can choose to provide comprehensive CPR instruction provided by a certified instructor.

What must be included in the instruction?

Instruction should be based on a nationally recognized program that uses the most current hands-only CPR guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (or equivalent organization); specifically:

  • Students will be taught to recognize the signs of possible cardiac arrest and call 911.

  • Instructors must provide students with hands-on opportunities to demonstrate the skills needed and compressions necessary to perform hands-only CPR.

  • Instructors must provide students with awareness about the use of an AED, including showing what an AED looks like and where it is located, as well as demonstrating the AED.

What is hands-only CPR and why is conventional CPR not required?

Hands-only CPR involves only chest compressions; no rescue breaths (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) are necessary. According to the American Heart Association, CPR can more than double a person's chances of survival, and studies show that people receiving hands-only CPR are as likely to survive as those receiving conventional CPR with rescue breaths.

Ms. Beaury shows proper positions of paddles on an AED

What is an automated external defibrillator (AED)?

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.


What is the cost to the school?

Schools may choose to purchase CPR training kits that provide a comprehensive, turnkey instructional program for hands-only CPR practice. Although, to meet the state requirement, schools may also choose from a variety of low-cost and no-cost options including: borrowing necessary equipment, using free online training tools, partnering with local EMS or, as a last resort, students can simulate delivering compressions on basketballs or playground balls.


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