Ohio students would have to learn the basics of CPR before they could graduate high school, if a bill introduced Tuesday becomes state law.
State Reps. Cheryl Grossman, R-Grove City, and Tom Letson, D-Warren, who are co-sponsoring the legislation, said it would be a way of training thousands of Ohioans in the life saving technique.
Already 16 states require training in cardio pulmonary resuscitation as a condition for graduation from high school, they said. Those 16 states expect to train just over 1 million students, Grossman said.
The CPR training requirement would begin with students who enter ninth grade on or after July 1, 2015. Training would also cover the proper use of automated external defibrillators. Schools would use instructions developed by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross or some other nationally recognized program, according to the bill.
Parents would be allowed to have their children opt out of the training with written notice to school officials.
Districts that fail to comply with the requirement may see a portion of their state funding withheld by the Ohio Department of Education, according to the bill.
Grossman noted that 424,000 heart attacks are reported each year in the United States. Only 41 percent of people who have out-of-hospital attacks receive bystander-administered CPR, she said. Prompt delivery of CPR more than doubles the survival rate, she said.
School districts could work with local fire departments to deliver an abbreviated CPR course that does not require full certification, Letson and Grossman said.
Damon Asbury, lobbyist for the Ohio School Boards Association, called the bill’s intent a “noble objective” but school districts are worried about mandates that make demands on time and resources needed to cover academics. “We’re not sure that the schools would be the best or only means for that training,” he said.
Belinda Jones, lobbyist for the American Heart Association, said the association supports the bill and will work toward its passage.