More than 300,000 people will suffer cardiac arrest in the United States this year. Seconds count and we need more Michiganders armed with the skills to save lives.

That’s why it’s critical we ensure all students learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation before they graduate.

Bills to require that all high school students learn basic CPR prior to graduation were recently introduced by Rep. Thomas Hooker, R-Byron Center, and Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and have the support of the American Heart Association, Michigan Association of Ambulance Services, Michigan College of Emergency Physicians, Michigan Emergency Nurses Association, Michigan Fraternal Order of Police, Michigan State Medical Society and more.

This common sense legislation would add more than 100,000 potential lifesavers to our communities every year. Today’s students could be tomorrow’s lifesavers.

Advanced medical training is not required to save lives in cardiac arrest. Basic training and a willingness to help is all that’s needed. Without a willing rescuer, cardiac arrest victims will have zero chance of survival. Fear or ignorance of easily-performed lifesaving techniques should not stop someone from stepping in to save a life.

Learning basic CPR is relatively simple. Research shows that a short video can teach immediate lifesaving techniques, including CPR and proper use of automatic external defibrillators to give someone a chance at life.

What most people don’t know is that mouth-to-mouth breathing is no longer required. Hands-only CPR is more effective and involves pushing hard and fast on the center of the chest of the victim at about 100 times per minute until help arrives.

Twenty-eight states have already passed laws ensuring students learn CPR and cardiac arrest survival rates have increased in the states and communities in which students are taught CPR. In some of theses areas, the survival rates have more than doubled.

Michigan’s current survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests is 8 percent. We can and must do better.

Let’s arm students with the critical life skill of CPR. Three out of four cardiac arrests happen at home. The life they learn to save could be a friend or a family member — or even your own.

Dr. Brad Uren is an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan.

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