When most people think of CPR, they think of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, which brings with it the 'ick' factor that might make a teen hesitate to perform the live-saving technique.
A partnership announced Monday between the American Heart Association and St. Petersburg’s All Children's Hospital will provide 3,000 Hillsborough County high school freshmen a hands-only technique that could save lives.
The CPR in Schools program launched Monday with a demonstration in Tampa’s Plant High School gymnasium. Coach Carrie Mahon taught students how to do chest compressions on mannequins. The plastic chests clicked with each pump of the students' hands.
"Eighty percent of cardiac arrests, 80 percent of heart attacks, strokes, of people collapsing, are preventable and that's why working with you all, we appreciate your minds and the time that you give to learning CPR," said Kate Sawa, executive director of American Heart Association Tampa Bay.
"And if you ever have to use it, we know that you guys will be ready."
Nearly 424,000 out-of-hospital heart attacks occur yearly in the United States. Ninety percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital heart attacks die and CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, according to the heart association.
The group also cites studies showing that trainees, including children, can attain acceptable levels of proficiency in hands-only CPR in 30 minutes or less.
"With mouth-to-mouth CPR, obviously, there' always that stand back of 'Should I do this if I don't know this person, or not?'" said Dr. Gul Dadlani, pediatric cardiologist at All Children's Hospital.
The CPR kits, which include mannequins and instructional DVDs, are being given to eight high schools in Hillsborough, including: Steinbrenner, Durant, Brandon, Chamberlain, East Bay, Hillsborough and Jefferson.
Sawa said the Heart Association also is pushing legislators to pass a bill to require that high school students take a one-hour CPR class in order to graduate. U.S. Sen. Thad Altman, R-Florida, from Melbourne, is sponsoring Bill 328.
"One thing the heart association is doing, we are advocating for legislation to be passed that high school CPR triaging will be a high school graduation (requirement)," Sawa said.
"We want all high schoolers in the state to give one hour in the course of their high school career to do CPR training on a dummy. 20 states in the United States have passed this legislation. We are hopeful we will do so this legislative session."