Guest Column

Op Ed: High Schools Should Teach Students CPR

You walked through the halls together. You sat together at lunch. You couldn’t wait to go to college together. But all of it was destroyed by one minute of that day. One minute she was smiling. The next she was on the floor, pale, and lifeless. I couldn’t save her. Everyone gathered around her as she choked, no one knew what to do. I lost my best friend that day because my education system failed me and my best friend.*

All high school curriculums should include a CPR certification. The reality is CPR saves lives.

At school we learn a lot of interesting things, but somethings should take precedence over others, and the safety of people should be a priority in our education system.

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One thing that is unfortunate is that there are people who are unfamiliar with what CPR even is in terms of what needs to be wrong for CPR to be necessary. A large population of people confuse the Heimlich maneuver with CPR.

The Heimlich maneuver, however, is very different from CPR because the Heimlich maneuver is a technique that is used when someone has something stuck in their trachea which blocks the airway of a person’s body. This act requires an upward thrust of the ribcage in hopes to knock the stuck object out of the airway, also the person who the act is being performed on should be in a standing position.

CPR is used when a person goes into cardiac arrest and their heart stops beating on its own. It is an emergency tactic that uses both chest compressions and oxygen forced into the mouth of a person in order to bring oxygen to the brain in an artificial manner to maintain brain function until a medical professional can analyze the symptoms. CPR should be performed with the person laying down on their back.

The confusion of these two life saving strategies is concerning. This is a common misconception among the young adults in America which can cost the life of a person. Both of theses medical emergencies are very different from each other and if they are confused it can further hurt the person who is suffering.

While the topic of CPR may be explained briefly in health classes at some schools, it is not relevant unless we are taught the skills to perform the tactic accurately.

Some may argue that this skill wastes a lot of time to be taught in school, but I think that it is one of the most valuable things that can ever be learned. People’s lives can be saved.

Many students will attend colleges after their high school years, and with college comes parties and irresponsible behavior. Due to the carelessness of college students as well as excessive alcohol and drug use, many people have died because the other students at the parties were uneducated in how to properly handle this intense situation. Many of the victims would have survived if CPR was properly performed.

When a person enters cardiac arrest it means their heart stopped beating on its own. People are more likely to survive if CPR is started immediately at the scene because it helps maintain the circulation of oxygen to the brain until a professional can determine whether or not the person can be saved, but if the general population is not educated on how to perform this life saving strategy, the number of deaths from cardiac arrest will be higher than it needs to be.

With this knowledge I believe that every young adult should be required to learn the life saving skill of CPR, and what better place to force a CPR certification than high school?

In reality, you never know if someone in a public place will go into cardiac arrest at any given moment, so it is best to always be fully prepared for the worst scenarios.

By adding a CPR certification to high school curriculums, there will be a wider range of people with the knowledge of how to properly resuscitate someone which will lead to a fewer people dying from cardiac arrest, and any life that can be saved is worth the time it takes to get a CPR certification.

*And while the story at the beginning was not true, it very well could have been. Learning how to perform CPR properly can truly save someone's life.

Allison Rever is a senior at Westfield High School.

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