Guest Blogger – Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director
On March 12th, Senate Bill 79, a bill that would require all Oregon students to be trained in CPR before graduation had its first public hearing in the Senate Education Committee. SB 79 would help create 45,000 new lifesavers a year by ensuring every student learned the simple, life-saving skill of CPR.
Sen. Mark Hass (Beaverton) and Sen. Jeff Kruse (Roseburg) voiced their longstanding support of a CPR in Schools policy, and Chair Arnie Roblan (Coos Bay) emphasized just how easy CPR is to learn. No one testified against the bill. Thanks to the hard work of advocates the bill was voted out of the Senate Education Committee unanimously on March 31st. The next step is a vote by the entire Senate.
Thank you to all the advocates who made the trip to Salem to testify and share their expertise and stories!
Here are some highlights from the day:
The AHA gave a presentation to committee members describing the problem of sudden cardiac arrest, the importance of bystander CPR, and the existing community partnerships with schools as well as resources around the state for implementation.
Mike Duyck, Fire Chief at Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVFR), and President of the Western Fire Chiefs Association, testified in support of the bill. Chief Duyck highlighted the training of 15,000 students in TVFR’s service area over the last few years. “The fire service stands ready to support you and our schools with this simple, yet life-saving program.”
Jim Balsiger shared his story of survival. When Jim collapsed at home, his daughter saved his life by starting CPR immediately until first responders arrived. It took 45 minutes of CPR as well as 22 shocks to his heart to save Jim’s life. “I never thought I'd be thankful for a group of people breaking five of my ribs but I sure was on that day,” Jim said.
“There are a lot of things unanswered that day, but what I can tell you is this: I am here speaking to you today with all my faculties because of CPR.” Our deep appreciation to Jim for sharing his story.
PE teacher, Ali Massey, testified for the first time ever on a bill, sharing her positive experience teaching CPR to her middle school students. Ali trained 197 students with the help of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. Students were so enthusiastic, they in turn trained 927 family and friends, for a total of 1,124 community members.
“In my opinion, middle school isn’t just about academics. It’s also about learning about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your interests and values, what is important to you,” Ali said. “One of the most important things that students can learn is how to be a helpful, concerned and active members of their community.”
Kaylee Nelson, a recent UO graduate and the current Miss University of Oregon, is also an active volunteer with Eugene Springfield Fire & Rescue’s CPR in schools program. Kaylee shared that ESF&R has helped train 3,000 middle and high school students in CPR, and over 1,500 community members. Kaylee also spoke eloquently about her own experience in an emergency situation with a loved one—and why she’s committed to ensuring the next generation knows CPR.
The Oregon C