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Training a New Generation of SD Life Savers

A bill introduced into the South Dakota Legislature would mandate CPR training in state high schools.
A bill introduced into the South Dakota Legislature would mandate CPR training in state high schools.
February 1, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – A bill just introduced in the South Dakota Legislature on behalf of the American Heart Association would add CPR training as a requirement for high-school students. Senate Bill 140 is co-sponsored by 12 senators and 10 representatives. A similar bill was introduced in 2014, but was amended to "encourage" the teaching of CPR, and to collect data from each school district.

Eric Van Dusen, the state president of South Dakota's EMS Association, says this bill has more than "encouragement" in it.

"It will mandate that all kids coming out of high school will have been trained in CPR measures, along with AED, which is a life-saving measure that, in frontier and rural areas like South Dakota, can definitely change and save lives," he explained.

An AED is a defibrillator. Van Dusen says the new law could add more than 11,000 CPR-trained young adults to the community, year after year.

Despite the years of training, Van Dusen says there are still quite a few people who aren't sure how they can help in an emergency. The newer, "hands-only" CPR method might make them more likely to try.

"We're finding out that there's a lot of people that don't know CPR," he said. "And we can introduce them to a different form of it, much simpler form that they shouldn't be afraid to be able to help those that are in need."

He adds many teachers have said they want to provide the training, but may not have the time.

"But if some of the teachers have full schedules and are unable to do so, this would free them up," he added. "EMS providers can come in and provide the training, and give them insights and real-life experiences from what we do and our profession."

The American Heart Association estimates nearly 424,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital every year, and only about 10 percent survive, most likely because they don't receive timely CPR.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD