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What High School Health Classes Are Lacking

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“Only one in six Americans know that the recommended technique for bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) consists of just chest compressions – and no breaths – on an adult. Even fewer, 11 percent, know the correct pace for performing these compressions which is 100 to 120 beats per minute” (Kyle). This is a huge problem, but what can we do about it, or maybe whom can we teach about it? Right now, CPR is not taught to our high schoolers. There is also no training given to students on how to react to a medical emergency. Since not many Americans know how to perform CPR, it’s time our high schools introduce it into their health classes so that students can learn more about the human body and how to respond to a medical emergency.

The whole point of a high school health class is to learn more about the human body and how to keep it healthy. Therefore, why not teach CPR training? Students would learn so much more about the heart, how your airway works, and how cardiac arrest can affect your brain. They would learn why cardiac arrest is so deadly and how an AED works. Students would be introduced to other medical terms, methods, and situations that would benefit them in life. Educators might complain that this would just be more work for them and the students, but really it wouldn’t be that hard. They would only need to go over the basics of CPR and there are plenty of videos and websites that would make the lesson planning easier ( Some states have passed laws to try to make CPR mandatory in schools, but people find ways to get around it. For example, students aren’t required to complete a CPR training course in Illinois, and in Indiana, wavers can be written to get out of the requirement. Students graduating from high schools in Maryland aren’t required to have completed a CPR training course. “Bystanders trained in CPR are more likely to take action than those who are not trained” (Zarrilli).

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If students were trained and knew what to do in an emergency, they could help others at school. As of right now, the only people that receive CPR training in schools are the staff. What happens if a teacher goes into cardiac arrest? Of course, some people would argue that there is no need for a student to learn CPR. There will always be another staff member nearby to help even if a teacher needs CPR. On the other hand, running down the hallway to find the nearest teacher wastes precious seconds, and what if the teacher is in an isolated spot and not found right away? The person in need of help receives medical attention immediately. Studies show that those who are treated right away, with less than two minutes passing before CPR begins, have less side effects than those who have a longer period of time pass before the resuscitation process is begun (Pennington). The teacher in need might have already suffered brain damage by the time another staff member arrived. One example of a situation when CPR was needed at a school was at Elite Scholars Academy in Clayton County, Atlanta, George. Imani Bell was running up stadium steps for conditioning on one of the hottest days in Atlanta in three years when she collapsed. When firefighters received the distress call Bell had been relocated inside and was unresponsive. During transport to the hospital the patient became pulseless and stopped breathing. Firefighters administered CPR, began Advanced Cardiac Life Support, and transported her to Southern Regional Medical Center. The patient did regain a pulse during transport and was transferred to Southern Regional Medical Center.” She was pronounced dead at the hospital (Poole). If even one of the students present for the accident knew CPR Bell’s life could have been saved.

Students who have been CPR trained would also be able to help others, not just people in their school. According to the US Census Bureau of 2018, 90% of Americans go to high school (“High School Completion Rate Is Highest in U.S. History”). That would mean that 90% of America would learn how to perform CPR correctly. Imagine the effect this would have on our country. More lives would be saved, more people would look out for each other, and the population would be better prepared to help in an emergency that involved CPR. Some might say that most average people who receive CPR training will never use it. Why should they waste their time learning a skill that they will never use? Sadly, that’s not true. Take Nathan Boyer for example. Nathan, a 13-year-old boy, was running baseball drills with his coach Isaac Wenrich, a minor league baseball player with the Florence Freedom of Kentucky. When Isaac suddenly collapsed, Nathan called 911 and started doing CPR. He continued for four minutes until the paramedics arrived and took over. There is no doubt that if Nathan had not been there and known what to do, Isaac would have died (Catherine). Unfortunately, there is not always someone that knows what to do. The data for out of hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) deaths varies from between 300,000 to 325,000 lives lost annually, and that number is rising each year. The SCA death total annually is more than for breast cancer, lung cancer and HIV/AIDs combined (“How Many Sudden Cardiac Arrest Death Are There Each Year in the United States”).

Students need to be prepared to perform CPR in order to know more about the human body and how to act in a medical emergency. Teachers and schools should consider adding CPR training to their health class. The more people that are prepared, the more lives that are saved. Your life could be saved. What would the world be like if more Americans were ready to help?

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What High School Health Classes Are Lacking. (2021, August 11). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from
“What High School Health Classes Are Lacking.” Edubirdie, 11 Aug. 2021,
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