Bringing CPR Training to Schools


King County in Washington state has the highest survival rates in the world for cardiac arrest: 62 percent. To put that into perspective, larger cities like New York and Chicago have rates in the single digits.

One of their secrets to success is the Student CPR Training Program, which brings mandatory CPR training for all students grades 6-12. When it comes to cardiac arrest, every minute counts, so the more trained bystanders an area has, the higher the chances of survival for the victims.

At the urging of public health advocates, 27 states now have CPR training as a graduation requirement. The ultimate goal is to take this requirement to the federal level, but if you’re in one of the states that isn’t quite there yet, here are some easy ways to bring CPR training to your students in the coming school year.

1. Spark student passion.

Time and funding play a big part in the reluctance of schools to offer training, but when students are passionate about a cause, they can easily find support and backing through social media.

To inspire your students to become heroes, read, “My Teammates Saved My Life,” a story about a 13-year-old who was kept alive by a teammate who performed CPR during softball practice. The article includes other true teen stories and a great infographic with the facts that matter.

2. Get yourself trained.

King County schools receive a relatively modest amount of government funding for CPR training, which covers the cost of subs so that teachers can attend a two-day session to become certified CPR trainers. If that’s not possible, they use the money to hire in outside trainers.

If you’re not already certified, see if there’s a class offered locally this summer, and round up all of the teachers and coaches you know to join in.

3. Bring in the experts.

If getting trained to be an instructor isn’t something you have the time for, have the students reach out to see if they can get volunteers to come in and train them. Many EMT companies have community service goals and would benefit from having more trained members in their community.

Students could also contact the local chapter of the American Heart Association or The Red Cross to see if they have any funds available to help pay for their training.

4. Show students just how easy it is.

Even if full training isn’t in the immediate future for you or your students, you can still take a moment to show them the basics. Every minute that goes by without CPR, a person’s chances of survival drop by 10 percent, so every little bit of action helps.

In this clever PSA from the American Heart Foundation, bystanders are given some simple suggestions and encouraged to hop in and help. Even seeing this ad just once might give a student the self-confidence to act in case of an emergency. 

For more resources to use in your class, check out Learn CPR, a free service from the University of Washington that provides training information, apps, and videos.