MCPS should make CPR training a prerequisite for teachers
Two weeks ago, Maryland State Senators passed "Andrew's Law," a provision named for former Blair student Andrew Helgeson, that would require every Maryland high school to have an automatic external defibrillator. State legislators have taken the first step to improve an inadequate environment for student health in schools but why stop at defibrillators? MCPS should make cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid training a requisite for all teachers at all levels of education in the county.
After Andrew Helgeson (Blair class 2005) died because of sudden cardiac arrest last May the need for teachers trained in CPR has never been more pertinent. Even though Helgeson died at his home, sudden cardiac arrest could have just as easily struck during school hours, when teachers could have administered emergency aid if they had taken the required CPR courses.
Over 900 people die every day from sudden cardiac arrest, and approximately 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching a hospital. This means that victims of cardiac arrest have little time before they die, and even less time (four to six minutes) before they suffer from irreversible brain damage. CPR can be performed on-site and, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), administering CPR immediately after cardiac arrest doubles the victim's chances of survival.
If properly trained, anyone can learn CPR easily. Basically, it entails giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to force oxygen into the victim's lungs, followed by intervals of chest compressions that circulate blood from the heart to the vital organs. According to the AHA, CPR helps maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain and increases the amount of time that an electric shock from a defibrillator can be effective. If the state ends up funding defibrillator programs, then their use, coupled with CPR-trained educators, would make MCPS one of the best-prepared school systems to deal with a case of cardiac arrest.
CPR isn't administrated only in cases of sudden cardiac arrest but can also be helpful for other medical emergencies—stroke, head-shock, trauma, severe bleeding, choking and allergic reaction—that are just as likely to occur at schools as they are at any public location.
In a school system with nearly 140,000 students, emergencies are inevitable and educators need to be prepared to deal with any medical situation.
Currently, only athletic coaches employed by MCPS are required to have any training in medical emergencies. Other educators, including physical education and science teachers are not required to have any previous training. For any teacher, and especially ones who teach in these areas, knowing CPR and First Aid is a necessity. PE teachers should be able to administer CPR and First Aid if a student injures himself or collapses, and a science teacher should be able to do the same if a student is injured in an experiment or suffers an allergic reaction.
The cost of providing CPR and First Aid training courses is very low. Current voluntary CPR and First Aid training courses cost $20 per person. MCPS could easily lower the overhead cost if it made this training a requisite.
States like Michigan and countries like Australia have already implemented CPR and First Aid training programs for their educators. Even if a little time and money invested only manages to save one life, it would make requiring CPR training for teachers worth every penny.
Ethan Kuhnhenn. Ethan Kuhnhenn is a junior in the Communication Arts program and is entering his first year as a SCO staff member. When he's not fishing in his new bass boat, you can probably find him at Taco Bell chilling with his best friend, the cheesy … More »