Legislative Proposal Would Mandate CPR Training

In a  memo accompanying a draft bill being circulated for support from legislative colleagues, state Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) and state Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield), are proposing legislation to require that school boards, operators of independent charter schools, and governing bodies of private schools provide instruction in cardiopulmonary and cardiocerebral resuscitation in any health education course offered to pupils in grades 7 to 12 and to provide instruction about automated external defibrillators to pupils in grades 7 to 12.

Under current law, a school board, operator of an independent charter school, and governing body of a private school is required to offer instruction about cardiopulmonary and cardiocerebral resuscitation and to provide automated external defibrillators to pupils enrolled in high school grades.

The memo from Sen. Petrowski contains the following rationale:

LRB-2824 will make our communities safer and improve survival rates for those who suffer cardiac arrest. The bill will help to ensure that all youth learn basic, compressions-only CPR in school. In most cases, the training can be done in as little as 30 minutes. To date, 27 states have passed similar legislation.

Many schools in Wisconsin already provide CPR training to their students. Some team up with their local fire/EMS and others work with champions at their local hospital. LRB-2824 will replicate those great programs and ensure all students have access to CPR training. This will yield an additional 58,000 CPR trained youth to our communities each year, ultimately making our communities safer and improving survival rates.

The push for this legislation comes in part from a national effort by the American Heart Association aimed at imposing mandates on schools that also include gym class mandates.

When looked at in a vacuum, these well-intentioned efforts seem to make sense.  The WASB will continue to be concerned, however, that when you look at the number of new unfunded mandates being proposed or recently implemented (e.g., CPR, child sexual abuse prevention program, financial literacy, citizenship graduation test,  reporting of crime data, five-day-a-week elementary P.E. classes, the slew of new reporting mandates passed in the state budget, etc.) the cumulative cost of these things will add up for school districts, especially at a time when revenue limits are frozen, school budgets are tight, and lawmakers are proposing to limit school boards authority to seek referendums.

The costs to individual school districts to implement the bill and the amount of instructional time required will vary depending on what a district currently offers to students and on how the school decides to implement the proposed draft legislation.

It is our understanding that if a school only provides the minimum instruction required by the draft (compression-only), it can be done in as little as 30 minutes. This assumes, however, that a school has enough practice dummies or mannequins for the number of students in the class (each dummy or mannequin costs about $625).  Obviously, if a school only has one dummy and there are 25 students in the class, it will take longer to give every student an opportunity to practice the compression technique.  If a school has more dummies, more students can be practicing at any one time.  There is a clear trade-off in this regard.

If your school currently provides CPR training of the type mandated by this bill, we encourage you to contact us to let us know about the expense and the time involved.

We urge school leaders to encourage efforts to provide grants to schools to cover the cost of this instructional mandate and/or partner/work with local fire/EMS and medical providers such as hospitals in an effort to reduce costs.