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Op-ed: Restored funds for CPR training may keep your heart beating someday

By Lillian Kohr and Bob Cash

First Published May 25 2014 08:36 am • Last Updated May 25 2014 08:36 am

With CPR and AED Awareness Week (June 1-7) just around the corner, the American Heart Association would like to congratulate the Utah Legislature and Gov. Gary Herbert for their efforts to save Utahns from the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease. This year the state legislature restored funding to the CPR Training Program in high schools. This funding will give teachers the resources they need to ensure our children are trained in this lifesaving technique before they graduate from high school.

The funding will also go towards training students in the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). In recent years, the Legislature has appropriated funds to help schools and districts place AEDs in their buildings. The response to these funds has been tremendous and the placement of these devices and the potential for saving lives is substantial. Equipping our children with the knowledge of how to perform CPR and use an AED will make a significant impact upon them and the individuals they might save.

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As was shared by Representative Carol Spackman-Moss and Senator Brian Shiozawa during Heart on the Hill day at the Capitol on February 7th, "nearly 80 percent of heart attacks occur outside of a health care setting." Because of this, survival rates hover around an abysmal 7 percent. In light of the terrific success that the Salt Lake City Fire Department has had in increasing bystander CPR (and survival rates), the restoration of these funds will go a long way to training a new generation of lifesavers that will be equipped with the knowledge to intervene if the situation arises.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 360,000 lives each year. While 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of a care facility, effective bystander CPR can double or even triple the chance of survival for a sudden cardiac arrest victim. Immediate CPR from someone nearby often means the difference between life and death. Currently, less than one-third of victims receive CPR.

During this past legislative session, both the House and Senate had an opportunity to honor individuals across Utah who used CPR to save the life of someone in the community. Many of these individuals learned CPR in their teenage years and were able to recall that knowledge when an emergency arose. The Legislature honored individuals like Ryan Fowles, a student at SUU who helped save the life of Professor Joe Baker when he suffered a heart attack; and Scott Hunt, an employee at VLCM who helped save the life of fellow employee Kent Carothers when he suffered a heart attack in their office warehouse. These "heroes", and many others across Utah, were honored for their lifesaving work as "Heart Savers" in our community.

Because of our Legislature’s important decision, all Utah high school students will have access to CPR training as part of their curriculum for Health. The American Heart Association is working diligently to reach a bold goal: "By 2020, to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent." The Utah Legislature’s support will undoubtedly help decrease the mortality rate for sudden cardiac arrest victims and is a critical step towards meeting this goal. We express our sincere gratitude to the Legislature for their efforts to save lives.

Lillian Khor, M.D., is American Heart Association Utah Division presidentand director of Preventative Cardiology & Cardiac Rehabilitation, University of Utah Healthcare. Bob Cash is American Heart Association Utah Division chair and Operations Officer and Intermountain Medical Center.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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