By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

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Lawmakers in Michigan hope the odds of surviving a cardiac arrest improve in the state, where high schoolers will soon be required to take CPR training before graduating.

“We’re hoping this will help increase survival rates across all Michigan communities and beyond,” said pediatric cardiologist Monica Martin Goble, M.D., an associate professor at the University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center, and an American Heart Association volunteer. “As four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home, this has the potential to increase survival rates across our communities.”

The new law was signed Dec. 28 by Gov. Rick Snyder. It outlines that Michigan high schoolers will learn CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator before graduation beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. The result will be roughly 100,000 more CPR-trained Michiganians every year.

High school seniors Tyler Menhart and best friend Noah Weeda testified in support of the bill.

Weeda collapsed during soccer drills in April 2015 at Northview High School in Grand Rapids. Menhart called 911 and used the CPR skills he’d learned as a Boy Scout.

Also supporting the bill were the families of Wes Leonard, who died in 2011 at age 16 after a high school basketball tournament, Kayla Stanford, who died at 13 after track practice in 2006, and Kimberly Gillary, who died at 15 during a water polo match in 2000.

Michigan is now one of 35 states and the District of Columbia that require high school students to be taught CPR based on American Heart Association guidelines. In those states combined, more than 2.1 million high school students each year will have been trained in CPR.

According to the AHA, more than 350,000 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrests outside a hospital each year, and only 12 percent survive. For each minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation the chances of survival decrease by 7 percent to 10 percent.

That gives emergency medical services very little time to get to victims, which is why bystander CPR is so important, said Brad Dornbos, a firefighter and EMS coordinator for the City of Wyoming Department of Public Safety Fire Services in Michigan.

“Those first extra few minutes are critical until we show up,” said Dornbos, who testified in support of the bill.

He said only a handful of Michigan schools are currently teaching CPR training. The new law will change that.

Michigan students will learn and practice hands-on CPR, which includes pumping the chest to circulate blood to vital organs such as the brain and heart. They’ll also become familiar with AEDs, battery-operated mobile devices that can deliver a shock to a cardiac arrest victim’s heart.

“The fact that the law includes a hands-on component should increase its effectiveness” because it’s a simple skill to teach and remember, Goble said.

Senator Tonya Schuitmaker and Rep. Tom Hooker introduced the legislation and ushered it through the legislative process. The state Senate unanimously approved the bill in May; the House passed it Dec. 15.