Senate Bill 212 passed the Georgia House 140-21 on March 20 and the Senate on March 5 by a vote of 44-6.
Sen. Jeff Mullis (R–Chickamauga), who sponsored the bill, said the skills can be far-reaching.
“The first few moments of a medical emergency are the most critical, and knowing how to administer CPR and use an AED can truly save a life,” he said after Senate passage. “With just a short investment of time, today’s students will become tomorrow’s lifesavers equipped with essential lifesaving skills.”
Co-sponsors include DeKalb Delegation members Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) and Fran Millar (R-Atlanta).
The bill was supported by the American Heart Association, which says that nearly 360,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur annually outside of a hospital setting and that survival rates can double or even triple with immediate and effective bystander CPR.
Julie M. Howell, grass-roots director of the association’s Greater Southeast affiliate, called passage of the legislation “great news from the Capitol.”
“Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S. – but when ordinary people, not just doctors and EMTs, are equipped with the skills to perform CPR, the survival rate can double, or even triple,” Howell said Thursday. “By teaching students CPR, we can add thousands of lifesavers to our communities.”
SB 212 would require local boards of education operating a school with grades nine through 12 to provide instruction in CPR and AED use as part of health or physical education courses. Hands-on practice is a required component. Time involvement is as short as 30 minutes, and instruction can be provided through video or local partnerships with EMS, fire departments or hospitals.
The coursework and program must be one developed by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross or another nationally recognized program based on current emergency cardiovascular standards.