New York’s Class of 2016 first to graduate with lifesaving CPR skills

Class2016High school seniors all across New York State will don their caps and gowns, adjust their tassels to the fore, and snap smiling selfies with family and friends. After marching down the aisle to receive their diplomas, they’ll march off into the world well-prepared, a new generation of college students, workers, leaders—and lifesavers.


This year’s Class of 2016 is the first high school student class in New York State to have received Hands-Only CPR training as a result of the CPR in Schools Law, which went into effect this school year.  The American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure grassroots volunteers helped make New York the 26th out of 34 states in the U.S. to pass this lifesaving legislation.


Earlier this week, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 711 (SB 711) making Missouri the 34th state to add CPR training to its high school curriculum. Now, including Missouri, more than 2 million students will be trained every year, including more than 190,000 high school graduates here in New York State.CPRinSchoolsMap


“Think about next year and every year after, how many more students will learn this lifesaving skill, which is imperative to save a life from sudden cardiac arrest—when the heart rhythm suddenly stops or becomes irregular, causing death within minutes. Over the years, the impact on survival from this leading cause of death in our community will be dramatic,” said American Heart Association/American Stroke Association advisory board chairman Steve Gassner.


“When you think about all the things a student can learn throughout their education, CPR skills are certainly one of the most important—and one of the easiest to learn. It’s a skill that will stay with them wherever they go. If an emergency arises, they’ll have the knowledge and skills to help save a life,” he said.


“Thanks to all the volunteer advocates who, for over 15 years, committed time and effort, making phone calls, sending emails, and visiting Albany for Lobby Day events to help pass this law. Thanks to the legislators for their leadership. Thanks to all the school leaders who provided resources to make this education possible. And thanks to the teachers who taught and to the students who learned Hands-Only CPR,” said Bob Elling, chair of the AHA’s New York State advocacy committee.


“They started with ABC’s and finished with CPR. Three little letters can make all the difference.

Congratulations Class of 2016!” said Elling.


Why Learn CPR?


Cardiac arrest – an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs – is a leading cause of death. Each year, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States.


When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby. Almost 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.


There are two simple steps to Hands-Only CPR: If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive.” CPR can more than double a person’s chances of survival, and “Stayin’ Alive” has the right beat for Hands-Only CPR, 100 beats per minute.


Learn more about Hands-Only CPR at To join the AHA’s You’re the Cure volunteer grassroots network, register online at

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