2017-01-19 / Life in Leelanau

County schools prepare to offer CPR instruction

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

BROOKE DOURRON, a Leland freshman and Derek Yates, a Glen Lake eighth grader, from left, were among the youngest participants in an American Heart Association CPR/First Aid/AED class Saturday. BROOKE DOURRON, a Leland freshman and Derek Yates, a Glen Lake eighth grader, from left, were among the youngest participants in an American Heart Association CPR/First Aid/AED class Saturday. County students will soon be learning what could be the most important lesson of their lives.

Beginning in 2017-18, Michigan students in grades 7-12 will be required to have CPR instruction in order to graduate.

“I’m surprised it wasn’t required before,” said John Dodson, chief of the Glen Lake Fire Department. “The more people we have trained, the better it is for us.”

The law amends the state content standards for health education to include CPR instruction. Students are not required to pass a test at the end of a course as a condition of graduation. Previously schools have offered CPR as part of their health curriculum. Currently none of the county’s four public school districts include CPR in their instructional programs.

School officials frequently question legislators handing down mandates without providing funding to make it happen. But there is none of that with this legislation.

“It’s a good opportunity,” Leland Superintendent Jason Stowe said. “We’ll be talking with our local EMT educators about how we can work together to make it happen.”

How schools will comply with the law appears to be left to them.

The person delivering the instruction is not required to have any special training. And whether the local district wants to create a program that offers certification is left up to them.

Suttons Bay Superintendent Chris Nelson is excited about making the lifesaving instruction part of the curriculum for grades 6 -12.

In the past, students received a “crash course” on how to react in the case of an emergency with visits from the crew from the Suttons Bay- Bingham Fire Department. Now it will be part of the physical education program.

“We’ve been wanting to do something like this for some time and now it will be finalized,” Nelson said. “We’ll begin with sixth grade because that’s when our middle school starts. Ninety-eight percent of our kids have physical education, so it will fit right into our schedule.”

Other arrangements will be made for those students who, because of schedule conflicts, don’t have physical education.

“I’m hoping it can be done with our bigger (instructional) blocks and we can get it done in three dedicated sessions,” Nelson said.

The instructional program offered must be based on — but not identical — to either the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association or “nationally recognized, evidence-based guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.”

Glen Lake Secondary Principal Brian Hartigan said the new requirements would fit into the school’s health curriculum. Likewise, Northport Superintendent Neil Wetherbee said the new material is something that could easily be integrated into his school’s schedule.

About 20 people turned out Saturday for an American Heart Association CPR/AED/first aid training course in Cedar. The course was offered free of charge by the Cedar Area Community Foundation.

Among them were teenagers Derek Yates, a Glen Lake eighth grader and Brooke Dourron, a Leland High School freshman who came with her mother. “It’s not required,” said Yates, who is also taking a Red Cross babysitting class. “But it’s good to know.”

Like Yates, Dourron gave up her sunny Saturday to attend what many teenagers may consider boring.

But not her.

“It’s good to be prepared,” she said.

Dodson agrees.

“There have been incidents right here in Glen Arbor where citizen CPR has been a critical element in resuscitated a patient,” he said.

In 2005, a middle-aged man “coded” in front of a local shop and a nurse began CPR immediately — saving his life.

“It only took two or three minutes for us to respond because it’s right around the corner from the station,” Dodson said. “By the time we arrived, all I had to do was shock him once … and he’s alive today.

“If we can increase the number of people trained in CPR, it’s a great thing.”

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