Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Tuesday announced that she has introduced the Teaching Children to Save Lives Act (House Resolution 2308), legislation that would provide critical resources to assist schools with teaching students across the country the lifesaving skills of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use automated external defibrillators (AED).

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States, but studies show that victims of SCA have a 34 percent higher chance of survival if they are immediately treated with CPR and the use of an AED. Unfortunately, few people have the knowledge or confidence to perform these basic lifesaving skills in the face of SCA. Training a generation of students with these skills could save lives long into the future.

“Every second counts when someone is suffering from sudden cardiac arrest, yet few people know what to do in an emergency,” Capps said. “That is why it’s so important to teach students the lifesaving skills of how to perform CPR and use an AED — skills they could use to one day save the life of a classmate, family member or even a complete stranger. By training a generation of students in emergency response, we can dramatically reduce the rate of death from sudden cardiac arrest in our country.”

“Statistics show that it is imperative that schools, businesses, churches, softball fields and other public entities have rapid access to AEDs,” said Lynne Callahan, founder of the John W Callahan Heart Safe Project in Arroyo Grande. “The training is simple, and without question should be instituted as part of public education in our schools. You cannot put a price on this life-saving device. As a retired emergency room nurse I have seen first-hand the lives saved from using an AED.”

“The Heart Rhythm Society applauds Rep. Capps for introducing the Teaching Children to Save Lives Act, a very important bill for our policymakers to consider,” said Hugh Calkins, M.D., FHRS, president of the Heart Rhythm Society. “SCA survival rates are higher when victims are treated immediately, even before the arrival of first responders. Therefore, CPR and AED use are critical. With the support of Congress, a bill such as this one will inform young people and arm them with the life-saving skills required to help increase survival rates in the future.”

“The American Heart Association strongly supports Rep. Capps’ efforts to provide the resources necessary to train the next generation of lifesavers,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “By teaching schoolchildren how to deliver CPR and properly use an AED, we are reaching a major portion of the American population, substantially increasing the likelihood that individuals suffering from sudden cardiac arrest will survive.”

More than 350,000 people die annually from sudden cardiac arrest, including nearly 6,500 young people. Tragically, we have seen this trend grow recently, particularly among student athletes. The American Heart Association estimates that nearly 100,000 of these lives could be saved each year if more people knew how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use an automated external defibrillator before first responders are able to arrive.

HR 2308 would provide support for schools and local education agencies to implement CPR and AED training programs. Schools could use these resources to train teachers and school officials as CPR and AED instructors or work in conjunction with community organizations, such as local fire and police departments, hospitals, parent-teacher associations and others to provide CPR and AED training. Resources could also be used to acquire AED machines and training materials.

Advocates from the across the country will be on Capitol Hill this week to build support for Capps’ legislation. The Teaching Children to Save Lives Act is endorsed by the American Heart Association, the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation, the Heart Rhythm Society, the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, Parent Heart Watch, the SADS Foundation, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.