By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

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CPR training will now be a requirement to graduate high school in South Dakota under legislation signed into law Friday.

South Dakota is now one of 36 states and Washington, D.C., that require high school students to be taught CPR based on American Heart Association guidelines. In those states combined, more than 2.1 million public high school students each year will have been trained in CPR.

The new law takes effect with the 2017-2018 school year and will result in more than 8,000 additional South Dakotans trained in CPR each year.

“Having a new generation of lifesavers in our communities will have an incredible ripple effect for years to come,” Eric Van Dusen, president of the South Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association, said in a news release. “We know that young adults trained in CPR at school will save lives by knowing what to do during those precious few minutes after someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest.”

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More than 350,000 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrests outside a hospital each year, and only about 11 percent of those treated by emergency medical services survive, according to the AHA. CPR, especially if performed within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

South Dakota students will learn and practice Hands-Only CPR, which involves pumping the middle of the chest to circulate blood to vital organs such as the brain and heart. Students will also be familiarized with automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, portable battery-operated devices available in many public places that can deliver a shock to a cardiac arrest victim’s heart.

“In addition to saving lives, this legislation will also give high school students the opportunity to have hands-on training and exposure to a career in health care and, possibly, on their local EMS agency,” said Van Dusen.

“Our rural areas have a need for trained healthcare workers,” he said, “and by exposing kids to Hands-Only CPR training, we are giving them an important glimpse into a potential career field.”

The bill unanimously passed the South Dakota Senate last month and passed the state House in late February with a vote of 65-3. Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed the bill into law Friday.

States without legislation that meets AHA requirements for CPR training in schools are Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.