Why Teach CPR In Schools? Leah Olverd of Plainview

Reason No. 5: Leah Olverd of Plainview, NY

At 14, she suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Eight years later, she works in New York City

She was a teenager at volleyball tryouts when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. Quick thinking and quick implementation of CPR and use of an AED saved Leah Olverd’s life. Olverd is the American Heart Association’s Reason No. 5 that the CPR in Schools bill should be a law.

 “In the years since my ‘sudden death,’ I have been fortunate enough to live a normal life,” Olverd said. “Shortly after my sudden cardiac arrest, I became the captain of the volleyball team, danced at prom, learned CPR and spoke at my high school graduation. Now almost eight years later, I have traveled the world, earned a business degree from Fordham University and started my career in New York City. 

“I am living proof that CPR and AEDs work,” Olverd continued. “Had my coach not performed CPR or sent for an AED, I would not be here today. No one is prepared to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, especially not a teenager. Passing the CPR in Schools bill would train an army of people in these vital skills and empower our youth to save lives. Please support this bill and learn CPR for yourself. You just might save a life.”

Olverd is one of many American Heart Association volunteers working to pass the CPR in Schools bill. She is the first person in the “I’m Alive” video that showcases sudden cardiac arrest survivors. You can view the video here. http://bit.ly/AliveCPR  

To convince lawmakers to pass the CPR in Schools bill (A9298/S7096), the American Heart Association is conducting the “So Many Reasons” campaign. Every session day between now and the end of the legislative session, the American Heart Association is sending a “reason” to pass the bill. The reasons show people whose lives were saved with CPR and/or an AED, or people whose lives were lost because CPR and/or an AED weren’t used, or weren’t used correctly. The same reason is going to the media, and being posted on the American Heart Association’s facebook (American Heart Association – New York State) and Twitter feeds (@HeartLongIsland on Long Island and in Queens), with the hashtag CPRInSchools.

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach, and Senator Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, recently introduced an updated CPR in Schools bills, which is currently in the Education Committees in both houses.

“CPR is a lifesaving solution,” said Weisenberg. “As a former police officer, school administrator and lifeguard, I know firsthand that we need bystander CPR to save lives. Many people are alive today because individuals trained in CPR — including youth and adults who received that training in school — gave someone CPR until EMTs arrived. I’m committed to passing the CPR in Schools bill so that we can create a generation in which New Yorkers are prepared to save lives.”

“Schools prepare students with essential life skills, and CPR skills are among the most critical lifesaving skills that make our communities safer, year after year, said Grisanti. “It’s time to add New York to the growing list of states that have passed this legislation. I’m honored to sponsor the CPR schools legislation in the New York State Senate and I am proud to work in partnership with the American Heart Association and families in western New York to help make this bill become a law.”

“Every year, 424,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital,” said Dan Moran, chair of the American Heart Association’s New York State Advocacy Committee. “Would you know what to do if someone collapsed in front of you? Teaching CPR in schools will save lives. When I meet people who were dead, really, with sudden cardiac arrest, and I hear everything they’ve done since being saved, you see that the CPR in Schools bill isn’t just a bill – it’s life.”Image

Currently, only about 10 percent of those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest survive.

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