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Should CPR be taught in public schools?

At the age of six I was living near Clark AFB in the Philippines in an off base American subdivision with tennis courts and swimming pools. We would have these amazing block parties with the most fresh exotic fruit and freshly prepared meals. We even used to make homemade mango ice cream from the trees in our backyard, delicious. It was a fairly tightly knit little community or was it? Before I continue I would like to point out that the laws at that time were purposely designed to take advantage of the American presence and there was a lot to be fearful of for these young servicemen (It isn't my intent to pass judgment on any parties in the following story). It was just another beautiful day of being a fish and pigging out on the local cuisine. BBQ time... Then out of nowhere the most blood curdling scream followed by the most heart wrenching site. A little Filipina girl had wondered from the kiddie pool and was floating face down in the deep end of what was up to that point my chlorinated ocean paradise. I was the first one in the water but quickly out swam by a young man fresh out of basic training. We lifted her limp body out of the then turbulent waters and placed her gently on her back. The paramedics were called. Then... nothing... other than the mothers screams and pleas for her help. Everyone just looked around at everyone else standing around watching this poor mother weep as her baby girl turned different shades of blue and grey. As time slowed, an eternity had passed. Finally, the ambulance arrived and quickly whisked her away. She held on for three hours before her tiny fragile body succumb to her injuries. The doctors concluded that CPR would have given this girl a chance to grow up and eventually become a woman and maybe even a mother who would hopefully have always been grateful for those men that saved her life so many years ago and so would spread goodwill. This woman is of course nothing but a figment but illustrates a need for CPR education.

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    Sep 7 2011: Yes.
    I have never understood how we could allow our children to spend their precious time learning about things that are not helpful to them or to others and then let them go without the important skills of life. They need to be taught about their own bodies, how they work, how to nourish and keep them fit and finally how to jump start them when someone needs the help. Recently an 8 year old girl in our community had a heart attack while playing basketball. She is back at school because someone at the court was trained in CPR. It can happen to anyone so why not help everyone learn to do it?
    • Sep 7 2011: It is nice to see a happy ending to a similar story. Thank you for sharing.
  • Sep 8 2011: Living is California and having been a first responder both in serendipity, volunteer and professional capacities I can with confidence say that yes CPR should be taught as well as other emergency skills. We have plenty of elements to our habitat in this state that would lend themselves toward the possibility of disaster. That could range from an earthquake to fire or mudslide or other calamity. I have always seen people step up and be there to help, but many people do not know what to do. Were we to spend just a few dollars to educate our citizens on a large scale [and have volunteers in education] I believe it would benefit us in the long run.
  • Sep 7 2011: I honestly believe it is taught to at least a certain degree in most (if not very close to all) American school systems. Whether or not the students actually learn anything is a different story.
    • Sep 7 2011: Funding is a problem for many schools. The way in which a child is taught is often more important than the information itself, because unless a child is able to digest, retain and use the information it is simply a waste of time at least in a paradigm that is focused on results as is the more traditional educational systems. When we can focus on the learning process itself at the individual level we will ourselves learn more about the mysteries of the mind and of self. Then perhaps even master the art of education. Many require repetition, others learn faster and tend to get bored or distracted easily, I myself retain the spoken word better than a written one. My astigmatism doesn't help nor my mild dyslexia (thank you spell check) which made reading, spelling and more so math rather frustrating (neither of which were diagnosed until after high school) . We are not all the same and don't have the same needs when it comes to learning. To be good teachers we must understand our student. If not how can we expect them to understand us as teachers. One of the great side effects of teaching is that you often learn just a much in return. Thank you for your time.
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    Sep 5 2011: Yes.
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    Sep 5 2011: Not all kids will have nerves to practice that properly in an emergency situation. But some may save lives. Why not! Still may cause insecurity in future life if you attempt but fail to save the victim.
    • Sep 5 2011: CPR is a tool. As with any tool it is used to empower the wielder and it is then up to them to decide if, when and how to use it. It is better to have a tool that isn't needed if it does not hinder than to need it and not have it. One of the main reasons for education is to empower the individual so that they can better provide for themselves and contribute to the whole.
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      Sep 8 2011: Erol's point is a good one. I think the only answer to this is to help everyone realize that even with CPR the outcome is uncertain. Empowering them to take action while never transferring responsibility for the outcome is very important.
  • Sep 5 2011: You don't just need to be taught CPR. All first aid should be taught in schools, from how to deal with people who are choking to bleeding wounds to how to treat heart attacks. It is all knowledge that you may need one day. I say this as a 16 year old advanced first aider who has been learning since the age of 12.
    • Sep 5 2011: You go girl. I agree as a first responder for the DOC I was trained in many first aid skills and CPR is just a small piece to a very large puzzle (education reform) but a start. I think our educational system is failing it's students and communities by focusing so much attention on standardized tests and students scores. We need dynamic environments where students can express and refine there individual talents and desires while still being given a comprehensive foundation from which to work and achieve real world benefits. People often need tangible examples in order to understand that a pursuit is worth while. This type of education is engaging and can help students see the useful nature and practical applications of lessons learned. I dropped out as soon as I turned 18 and was legally allowed to do so without parental consent, because I was so bored and frustrated at school. Kids are smarter than society often gives them credit for and they are the ones to shape our future so lets do the best job we can to empower and encourage them. Thank you for your insight.
      • Sep 6 2011: It isn't just America though. I live in England. Students in England are treated as though they are dumb until they reach at least the last year of primary, if not longer. There isn't adequate provision for gifted students either and student councils are only a tick-box exercise. I was regularly told that I was wrong as a primary student, even to the point where I was told that prime numbers were NOT numbers that could only be divided by themselves and one. I have hated school my whole life. Thankfully I only have two years left of it.

        I apologise for the rant but it had to be said.
        • Sep 6 2011: No apologies necessary. I appreciate your willingness to share and would only encourage this behavior. I grew up abroad where the schools were ran by the DOD and actually enjoyed going to school. I was in talented and gifted programs which were designed to be just as fun as they were educational. Amazing what funding can do. When I moved back to the the US in the middle of my 9th grade year my new school informed me that I would be retaking classes I had already taken two years previously because they were a requirement on my high school transcripts in order to graduate even though they had my Jr High transcripts. Needless to say after the first 1/2 year I was ready to leave that place, but my parents wouldn't authorize it even though I had plans to go on to college and instead I struggled to stay out of trouble which I often was. Adults tend to look down on those younger than themselves even more so than children at least from an intellectual stand point and hate students who point out their mistakes or disagree with them aka think for themselves. I feel your pain. Best of luck in your journey.
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    Aug 28 2011: It's a no brainer. Doesn't take long to learn. At some point in your life, SOMEONE around you or someone close to you, is going to need CPR. It would take an extroardinary lack of conscience to stand there and watch them die and NOT go "Why the hell didn't I learn CPR!!!"
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    Aug 28 2011: Yes CPR should be taught in schools and it would be beneficial for each student to take the CPR training and become certified in CPR and first aid by the time they graduate HS. Automated External Defibrillators should be made more available in public places such as schools and stadiums etc.
    • Sep 5 2011: I was happy to find out that there are some CPR and basic first aid applications for smart phones and believe that one day they may just provide the shock you are looking for. In the future (provided we survive long enough) our cells and or other easy to carry mobile devices will be able to monitor our vitals, call for help and even shock us like a defibrillator or administer meds just like an EpiPen. Until that day we should strive to be knowledgeable and skilled at taking care of ourselves and not rely on the availability of technology or experts. A little bit of education can go a long way. Thank you for you input.
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        Sep 5 2011: Thanks for your info. I did not realize that we can have such smart phones and portable devices that can even sock us in the future. I have an AED but it is not really convenient to carry thus it is not likely to be with us if we ever need it out of the home. I mobile phone AED would really be ingenious. Humans are so smart that it is incredible that we can be so foolish when it comes to war, wasting natural resorces and destroying ecosystems. Hopefully we will get it together to save life on Earth. I don't think even an AED will save us from the toxic mess we made on Earth.
        • Sep 6 2011: Knowledge is possibly the most powerful tool of all and as with any tool it is used to both create and destroy. Destruction is required to create at least in physical terms, but as the years progress we will hopefully master the use of this tool. I believe the internet particularly mobile computing is the start of our development of the collective consciousness which will help each individual make more informed decisions. Because of our poor choices we find ourselves in a race with the clock if it were. While I am hopeful I am skeptical that our planet will survive, but either way we must and will change as is the nature of the universe.
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    Aug 28 2011: Some CPR fits nicely, I would think, into the health classes many states require. The problem in my experience is that one doesn't remember these skills if they are not used.
    • Aug 28 2011: I had basic CPR courses while doing swimming classes at age of about 10 or 11. I still remember a lot. I never had a chance to practice what I learned and forgot some of the details since... but still I feel I am in a better position to help someone if I had to (versus someone who never had any training).

      If the course was given 2 or 3 times it would reinforce the content in the head of kids and many of them (hopefully most) would retain the knowledge forever. (say... first time around 10, another time at 13 and one last time at 15 or 16 or something...)

      I think CPR could easily fit in since it's only ~3 hours.
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    Aug 28 2011: I would say no. To me it seems important to concentrate on core academics. If there is someone in the household who may require CPR, the Red Cross, for example, offers courses. Very few individuals ever need to use CPR skills.
    • Aug 28 2011: Hi Lynn, core academics are essential for sure, but I honestly see no harm in teaching kids how to do this. It can only be of benefit. Not all of the things learned at school are 'core subjects' anyway, right? If you can teach religious education, you can teach CPR. I know where my faith would be in a situation like the one described above, and it wouldn't be with the priest in the room.

      There is only one issue as I see it, and that's that we live in an extremely litigious society. I learned CPR when I learned to scuba dive, and the instructor warned us very carefully that it is easy to get into a situation if you step in to help someone and fail to save them. Knowing and doing are very different things... I wouldn't be surprised if someone in that group did know some CPR, certainly enough basic knowledge to have made some small difference to the girls chances. Having confidence to step up to those situations can't be taught, so it is better that everyone knows – then maybe someone will help.
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        Aug 28 2011: CPR training would take.. what.. an afternoon? Put down the paint brush or do an extra half hour's home work that night. It may hardly ever be needed, but if there's a one in fifty chance you use it ONCE successfully in your life, the inconvenience isn't even a factor. If you save ONE life, you just made your own worthwhile.

        The other thing is that there are many things we SHOULD all get around to doing. CPR training is one of those things. But if left to our devices, few people will do it as CPR has no urgent immediate benefit unless there's someone dying on the floor in front of us. And we are all dealing with the urgent, but not so important things of life. For this reason, I believe it MUST be taught in schools.

        I think people should learn mathematics too. But if it children attended a school with a full curriculum that didn't include mathematics, how many people do you think would bother going off to do a course in mathematics?
    • Sep 5 2011: I want to start by saying that I value your opinion and don't wish to sound condescending. I noticed that the only favorite talk you have listed on you profile is about music. Music is not a core subject that is being cut in schools all over the country. How do you feel about that and what do you think might be some of the long term ramifications of this trend? How have the core academics been fairing so far? Lets be rational about this. If you want to talk about statistics lets look at drop outs, teen pregnancy, school violence and other real world conditions right now that are direct reflection of the quality of our current standards of education. If you don't see a need for change I implore you to look around. One of the great things about first aid classes is that they are a physical manifestation of compassion in many ways. I hope you agree that the world could use some more compassion. Furthermore look at our obesity and health statistics. It stands to reason that as our population grows sicker and larger there might be more need in the future and if not what is the harm in providing this knowledge to the masses. I needed it, but didn't know it and that cost a little girl her life. Thank you for contributing and the best of luck in your journey.
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        Sep 6 2011: Skylar . . . I'm sorry we don't agree on this issue. I see your passion on this subject. But in all that you replied to me, I think much has to do with parenting and communities. The schools can't do it all. And, as well, best to you on your journey.
        • Sep 6 2011: I do not wish to change you or your mind and more than anything am grateful that not everyone thinks the same as me. You make a very good point about parental and communal responsibilities. I actually brought this up a couple of times in various posting. The passion you see is for education reform and I am not arrogant enough to think that I have all, if any of the answers, but see the need as obvious. Schools regardless of our opinions on parenting have a huge impact on a child and therefore society. It is far more than a place to study math problems. What we have been doing doesn't seem to be working at least not as well as it could. We need more funding and have it spent more wisely to start, but that is a whole other conversation. Thank you for sharing.
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    Aug 23 2011: Yes! Here in Germany the only CPR training most people know is the 3 hour long course they have to take in order to get a drivers' license. A very good idea, Skylar.
    • Aug 23 2011: By empowering the individual, we empower the whole. Thank you.
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    Aug 22 2011: if you take other p.e/health classes aside from the core ones, i think they do. it should be something taught in middle school i would say, tho.
    • Aug 23 2011: There are many schools that offer it but even more that don't and almost none that require it. Children can absorb and retain a massive amount of information and are smarter than the credit often given. What better gift to grant a child than that of knowledge that could one day save the life of someone they care about. Best of luck in your journey.