Teaching CPR to 700,000 Illinois high school students

Illinois Heart Rescue

Illinois Heart Rescue is teaching CPR to as many people in the state as possible, including fans at a Chicago Fire game July 15. In two years, the out-of-hospital survival rate for cardiac arrest doubled from 4 to 8 percent.

High school teachers throughout Illinois will receive CPR toolkits from Illinois Heart Rescue to train the state’s 700,000 high school students in the use of CPR.

“Immediate CPR, performed by a bystander, is the best chance a person has at surviving a sudden cardiac event,” says Terry Vanden Hoek, UIC professor and head of emergency medicine and project leader for Illinois Heart Rescue, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing survival for cardiac arrest.

The kits include DVDs in more than six languages that provide simple instruction in how to perform CPR, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to restart a stopped heart, and mannequins for practicing chest compressions.

Illinois Heart Rescue, funded by a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the Medtronic Foundation, is a statewide volunteer effort of EMS professionals, physicians, nurses, community groups, hospitals and governmental agencies.

Since the program launched two years ago, Illinois Heart Rescue has trained thousands of Illinoisans in CPR and the use of AEDs. In that time the statewide survival rate for out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest doubled, from 4 percent to 8 percent.

But bystander knowledge of CPR still varies across the state.

“In some communities, we estimate that up to 30 percent of people know how to perform CPR, while in other communities, knowledge of CPR is very low,” Vanden Hoek said. “That’s why training high school students throughout the state in how to perform CPR is so important — it’s a chance to increase knowledge of CPR in all communities, which will further improve our state survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.”

Last year, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Lauren Laman bill, mandating that all high school students receive CPR training.

Lauren Laman was a 17-year-old from St. Charles who collapsed during dance practice at school. CPR was not given before emergency medical responders arrived. A nearby AED was not used, and she died.

“We wanted to help support the implementation of the Lauren Laman Law, which is an unfunded mandate, by taking the financial and training burden off Illinois schools, and decided the best way to do this would be to provide training toolkits teachers can use to not only learn how to perform CPR and use AEDs, but how to train others in the use of these life-saving techniques,” said Teri Campbell, senior research specialist in the emergency medicine department and director of Illinois Heart Rescue.

“Because Illinois Heart Rescue firmly believes in a ‘pay-it-forward’ model, we include handouts in the training kits that students can use to train their families in CPR at home,” said Campbell. “We ask that every student we train, in turn, teaches five additional people how to perform CPR.”

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