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Bill Would Require CPR Class to Graduate High School in MN



December 22, 2011

St. Paul, MN - All Minnesota high school students would have to take a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) class if a bill being drafted by the American Heart Association becomes law in the New Year. Supporters of the idea include Norm Okerstrom, Plymouth, whose son, Teddy, collapsed at a football practice at age 16.

Norm Okerstrom says his son survived thanks to quick action by his coach, Matt Lombardi.

"Matt at that point started CPR on Teddy, and he told me, later on, that that was the most important coaching job he's ever done in his life. He was just trying to coach Ted to stay with him and don't give up and keep fighting."

Teddy made a full recovery and is now in college. His father says his story shows just how critical it is to know how to administer CPR.

"It's very important that all people know CPR, and know that it's really the way to increase the chance of survival. My understanding is that it doubles - possibly even up to 75 percent greater - the chance of survival if you begin immediate CPR."

Okerstrom says another advance that makes learning CPR much easier than it used to be is the new, and recommended, hands-only technique.

"There is enough oxygen in the blood already that if we continue to pump that blood through the brain and the vital organs, that oxygen is sufficient enough until we can get the AED [automated external defibrillator] and the emergency medical personnel there. The main thing is to get people to do something, because without doing anything, that person's chance of survival is less than 1 percent."

The bill will be introduced in the 2012 legislative session. It would require all high-schoolers in the state to take one, 30-minute CPR class to meet graduation requirements.

More than 20 percent of all deaths in Minnesota are due to heart disease.

More information is available at www.heart.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN