KOLD INVESTIGATES: Teachers, staff not required to learn life-saving procedure

Many of the adults in our schools don't know CPR

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona requires high school students to participate in CPR training in order to graduate, but it’s a different story for the adults in charge.

SB 1137, which passed in 2016, went into effect in July.

It passed without additional funding and without any requirements for the people in charge of your children for at least six hours every weekday to know the life-saving skill.

As a University High student, Erika Yee was honored for helping save a classmate’s life.

“One of my classmates, we were waiting in line and he suddenly collapsed and he went into cardiac arrest," she said. “I stepped up. I did chest compressions, I think they said three minutes until the fire department got there and I saved his life.”

Today, she is the assistant health educator at Sarver Health Center in Tucson.

She teaches chest-compression-only CPR to the community.

Since no funding was tied to the mandate, many local districts are turning to Sarver.

“We’ve taught over 600 kids this year,” Yee said.

By the time they graduate, thousands of students will have learned this life-saving skill. But there is no state requirement for teachers or staff.

KOLD News 13 asked Arizona lawmaker Heather Carter if she thought teachers and staff should know the procedure.

“That has not been discussed at the capital at this point in time," Carter said.

“I think (for) teachers and staff, it should be a requirement to be quite honest," said Pima County Schools Superintendent Dustin Williams. “They are in rooms of 30 kids or 150 kids a day and if something were to go wrong and they didn’t know CPR.”

While Williams said it is a good idea, it is a monetary burden for already underfunded schools.

“Who is going to teach this class? Where are we going to get the supplies? Ultimately, it’s up to them to foot the bill," he said. “So these mandates when they come through, it’s vital to attach some kind of money to them to help offset the burden for the schools."

Michigan-based ProTrainings keeps track of which states add CPR as part of teaching certification or re-certification.

According to the company, Virginia requires all teachers to know CPR.

In Utah, health, physical education and drivers education teachers are mandated to know it.

Over the summer, the Vail School District hosted a mandated CPR class for some teachers and staff to learn the procedure.

“In any teaching setting, whether it’s small kids or high school kids, everybody should be trained in CPR," said Adam Paul, who works in the special education department at Empire High.

Paul said he has already had to use CPR.

“When I used to work years ago for another school, we had a kindergartner that had a situation that needed help. I was able to assist and she was okay," Paul said.

For Paul, this class is a federal mandate because any district that bills medicare for services it provides to students must have a CPR and First Aid certified employee.

For now, in districts across Southern Arizona, students find themselves going to class with the promise of an education, but no assurance that someone will be there to save their lives.

“Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any place, any time," Yee said. “I think it’s really important everyone needs to learn this.”

Sarver has created CPR training videos in English, Spanish and ASL. They are available free to the public HERE.

The American Red Cross created CPR programs for schools that allow educators, administrators and other staff to become instructors who can deliver training.

Red Cross CPR programs for schools start with an “authorized provider” agreement that guarantees the school will adopt Red Cross training exclusively for its health and safety training needs.

As part of the agreement, the Red Cross will train adult faculty members in CPR and first aid – and provide them with instruction on how to effectively teach students those same skills.

Click HERE to learn the cost of the program and a location near you.

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