Missouri has become the 34th state to add CPR training to its high school curriculum. Gov. Jay Nixon signed the bill Tuesday, shortly after Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed similar legislation.
The Missouri bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Ron Hicks (R-St. Peters), was motivated to introduce the legislation after he used CPR to save Lauren Flett at the state Capitol.
“I was sitting in the legislature one day, on the House floor, and I ended up having to use CPR on a young woman,” Hicks said.
From left, AHA senior government relations director Jace Smith, Rep. Ron Hicks, Lauren Flett and Flett’s parents, Jayna Duncan and Burl Lutz. Hicks received AHA’s Heart Saver Award.
People asked where he’d learned it.
“I told them, ‘In high school, doesn’t everyone?’” he said. “And that’s when I found out that no, they don’t. And I was shocked.”
Hicks’ first attempt to get the bill passed last year failed. This year he pushed harder.
“I did everything I could to get it passed,” he said. “It was my last year in office, and I wanted to do something that would make a difference for years to come.”
The requirement goes into effect with the 2017-2018 school year and will result in an additional 60,000 graduates each year knowing how to perform CPR.
With Missouri, the nationwide tally has now reached more than 2 million trained graduates a year.
The American Heart Association is working with high schools to ensure they’re equipped for the training, Hicks said.
“You’re talking about something so simple — 30 minutes of your time — that can save lives,” he said. “It’s almost like a gift from God, to tell you the truth.”
About 38 people each hour have a cardiac arrest while not in a hospital, and nine of 10 do not survive, according to AHA statistics. Bystander CPR can double or even triple the victim’s chances of survival.
Michigan and California are considering similar CPR legislation.