Letter: CPR in schools bill will save lives

During this lame duck session in Lansing, House members are considering a bill (Senate Bill 647) that would ensure all Michigan students learn the life-saving skill of CPR before graduation and I am urging them to support it. Nearly 357,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest each year, and only 8 percent survive. Bystander CPR can triple survival rates by keeping people alive until EMTs arrive.

As a physician, I understand the importance of knowing Hands-Only CPR. As a cardiac arrest researcher in Detroit, I know firsthand the impact of the lack of bystander CPR has on the outcomes of our citizens. Currently the bystander rate on the City of Detroit is half of the national average. In an effort to change this, the Wayne State School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine has teamed up with the American Heart Association and the Red Cross in an effort to train community members on Hands-Only CPR. When a CPR-trained bystander is near, survival rates double and even triple by providing help until EMTs arrive. Three to five minutes is a matter of life and death for sudden cardiac arrest victims.

Thirty-five states across the country have passed similar laws, and eight of those states have passed bills since Michigan’s bill was introduced in December 2015. Four out of five cardiac arrests occur at home, which means that family members are the people our children are most likely to save. With baby boomers aging and being a baby boomer myself, having our kids educated in CPR will become increasingly impactful.

The Michigan Senate passed the CPR in Schools bill unanimously on May 31 and it now is waiting on a vote by the full Michigan House. I hope House members will make making this legislation a priority before session ends in mid-December.

We need our legislators vote on the CPR in Schools bill because today’s students could be tomorrow’s lifesavers. Contact your legislators at heart.org/CPRmi and urge them to support SB 647.

Dr. Brian O’Neil, chair

Department of Emergency Medicine

Wayne State University