New law focuses on CPR in public schools

A 2016 Senate Bill will soon require public and charter school districts to teach their students CPR. (Photo courtesy of American Heart Association)

It appears that learning Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation — more commonly known as CPR — is becoming an increased skill sought within Arizona schools.

When a human heart stops beating, the act of pushing hard and fast in the center of a person’s chest will double or triple the chance of survival.

Starting next school year, a 2016 Senate Bill will require all public and charter school districts in Arizona to teach students CPR at least once during their high school career.

Additionally, the American Heart Association is dedicated to teaching more students the lifesaving effort.

A study testing sixth grade students and their capacity to use hands-only CPR found that the majority of children could perform CPR in the correct location and at the appropriate compression rate, according to the AHA.

Locally, the 59th annual Phoenix Heart Ball, planned for Nov. 17 at The Phoenician, is continuing its longtime effort of raising awareness for heart health — CPR education included.

“The Phoenix Heart Ball committee works diligently to raise funds for the CPR in Schools program,” Phoenix Heart Ball Committee Chairman, Carolyn Jackson said.

“We are fortunate enough to live in a state where our leaders see the importance of CPR training for high school students. Gov. Ducey signed Senate Bill 1137 requiring CPR training or high school students before graduation. Our governor signed this important piece of legislation and we feel it is imperative to assist with raising funds to provide the equipment needed for these lifesaving training programs. In fact, we were able to deliver CPR kits that a donor provided to Central High School just last week.”

Ms. Jackson says the 59th Annual Phoenix Heart Ball marks the culmination of a year-long awareness campaign of Phoenix Heart Ball’s efforts and message to a national and international level. Since its inception, this local event has raised over $33 million to fund life-saving research, education and local community outreach programs such as the Halle Heart Children’s Museum and CPR in Schools.

Every year, more than 100 local women volunteer their time to serve on the Heart Ball Committee, ensuring a successful fundraiser.

“The Phoenix Heart Ball Committee and the Past Phoenix Heart Ball Chairman always remain focused on the true mission and purpose of raising much needed funds and awareness for the American Heart Association,” she said.

In one year, 475,000 Americans die from a cardiac arrest, according to the AHA. Of that, 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year.

CPR is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. Immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest, the organization says.

For the general public or bystanders who witness an adult collapse, compression-only CPR, or hands-only CPR, is encouraged. Hands-only CPR consists of two steps:

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

The Phoenix Heart Ball Committee hosted its addressing luncheon earlier this fall. Pictured top left is Billie Jo Herberger, Paula Wichterman And Tracy Lytle; top right is a group photo; bottom left is Susie Muzzy And Jennifer Collins; and bottom right is Julie De Tienne. (photos By Scott Foust Studios)

CPR in schools

The American Heart Association offers its own “CPR in Schools” training kit, enabling students to learn the lifesaving skills of CPR in one class period, according to the national organization. The kit teaches adult and child CPR and choking relief, and familiarizes students with using an automated external defibrillator.

According to Dr. Jacob A. Chavez, superintendent of the Cartwright School District and board member of the American Heart Association’s Phoenix Division, there is a chance that a cardiac arrest can occur within a classroom.

“Each year, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests take place outside of the hospital and occur in a public setting,” Dr. Chavez said. “This means there is a chance that a student or educator will go into cardiac arrest at school. Studies show that bystanders who have any type of CPR exposure are 70 percent more likely to take action when they witness someone suddenly go into cardiac arrest.”

Dr. Chavez says when CPR is administered immediately after cardiac arrest, a person’s chance of survival doubles or triples.

“…So it’s imperative that we teach today’s youth the lifesaving skills of CPR,” he said.

Carolyn Jackson, 2018 Phoenix Heart Ball Chairman. (photos By Scott Foust Studios)

“The American Heart Association’s CPR in Schools Training Kits equip students and educators with the lifesaving skills of CPR. The kits are reusable, designed specifically for the needs of schools and one kit can help train hundreds of individuals. It’s certainly advantageous for more schools to embrace CPR kits and courses. By teaching more students and educators CPR, we’re putting more qualified lifesavers in our communities.”

At Scottsdale Unified School District, CPR is part of the professional coursework for school nurses, and is part of the training for athletic staff, Public Information Officer Amy Bolton said.

SUSD staff and students may learn CPR in their personal lives, but there is not one specific course taught, Ms. Bolton noted.

Next school year, 2019-20, every student in a public or charter school in Arizona will be required to learn hands-only CPR at least once in their high school career, Senate Bill 1137 specifies.

“We feel it is important for 6th, 7th and 8th graders to receive education on CPR simply because it is advantageous for the school and also the community,” Dr. Chavez said.

“‘Change occurs when we Educate, Re-educate and Educate once again.’ This statement is true also with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Education.”

The 59th Annual Phoenix Heart Ball will take place at The Phoenician Resort on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Chaired by Ms. Jackson, this year’s theme is “Driven Hearts.”

The Phoenix Heart Ball funds are going to contribute to various areas in the community including:

  • The Halle Heart Children’s Museum;
  • CPR in Schools;
  • Innovative Research;
  • Public education;
  • Advocacy efforts such as helping to promote non-smoking areas;
  • Little Hats, Big Hearts program – a program where people knit little hats for newborns that are delivered in February to raise awareness about congenital heart disease during Heart Month;
  • The Kids Heart Challenge – an initiative to get kids to make healthier choices, exercise and sign a pledge in the schools;
  • Go Red for Women’s efforts to combat heart disease; and
  • Wellness programs for companies that do not have their own.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at or can be followed on Twitter at

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