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New Wisconsin Law Will Save Lives

A new law in Wisconsin mandates teaching of CPR in high schools. Many people die of sudden cardiac arrest because witnesses don't know what to do. (AHA)
A new law in Wisconsin mandates teaching of CPR in high schools. Many people die of sudden cardiac arrest because witnesses don't know what to do. (AHA)
June 3, 2016

MADISON, Wis. - June 1 - June 7 is CPR and AED week, to remind everyone Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation and Automatic Electric Defibrillators can save lives.

Governor Scott Walker has signed into law the CPR In Schools Bill, which will insure every high school graduate in Wisconsin will learn CPR.

The new law officially goes into effect in the 2017 school year.

Dr. J. Carter Ralphe, chief pediatric cardiologist for UW-Health in Madison, says learning CPR is extremely important.

"It's important because most of the cause of sudden cardiac death is unobserved or in regions or locations where there aren't EMS technicians immediately available," says Ralphe. "And it's those first few minutes after somebody drops that are critical."

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death, in part because many people who witness it don't know what to do. This new law will change that.

The American Heart Association in Wisconsin estimates the new law will add 58,000 CPR-trained individuals to Wisconsin communities each year.

Some schools in the state already have model CPR training programs in place, and now that the new law has been passed, implementation and training will be the key.

"Somebody like a bystander who understands how to do this basic hands-only CPR as it will be taught in high schools can literally save lives," says Ralphe. "Other states that have implemented this have seen a reduction in the mortality associated with sudden cardiac arrest."

The training will require hands-on-a-manikin practice and the American Heart Association has invested more than $95,000 in Wisconsin to make manikins and training DVD's available to schools.

Ralphe praises the spirit of cooperation in gearing up to implement the law.

"Both at the level of the schools and the local health care providers," he says. "Most of the major health care institutions have agreed to help participate in this process, as well as local EMS and fire departments throughout the state are all lined up to help."

Wisconsin was the 31st state to pass such legislation. To learn more about how you can help get involved in implementing the law, go to www.heart.org/CPRWisconsin

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI