Students across North Carolina are learning how to better handle emergency situations, thanks to a 2012 state legislation requiring all public school students to complete a CPR training program. And Union County Public Schools educators have spent the better part of the last two years working to ensure the district’s students receive the best education possible.
North Carolina passed legislation in summer 2012 requiring public schools to implement a CPR-based instructional
program into the health education curriculum as a requirement for high school graduation by the end of the 2014-15 school year. Schools are required to use programs developed by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross or some other nationally recognized organization “based on the most current national evidence-based emergency cardiovascular care guidelines for CPR,” according to the legislation.
“The legislation passed requires students in the state of North Carolina who graduate from high school in 2015 (and later) to have to pass a CPR skills test,” Lindsay Jones, student fitness coordinator for middle school education, said.
The CPR program is incorporated into eighth-grade health education curriculum, but schools also had to train two additional high school grade levels – 2012-13 freshmen and sophomores – to ensure all students who graduate during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years complete the program.
UCPS leaders jumped on the ball and worked to give students and health teachers the proper training as soon as possible. The district partnered with Carolinas Medical Center-Union to provide CPR training and two-year certification at no cost to all UCPS health teachers who would be teaching the CPR unit in schools.
“In the bill, it does not require the teacher to be CPR-certified,” Jones said. “In Union County, we have all of our teachers certified in CPR … No matter what, if they are teaching it, they are certified.”
UCPS purchased six CPR mannequins for each middle school in the district, Jones said, and the schools can share the mannequins with their cluster high schools. Once the health teachers were certified, the schools taught the curriculum to the freshmen and sophomores who were required to complete the program before graduating.
“It’s because of the great P.E. and health teachers (UCPS has) that we were able to knock it out,” Jones said. “Several people throughout the state have called and asked how we were doing (our education). It’s been nice to share that information in our meetings in Raleigh.”
UCPS will continue teaching the CPR unit each year in eighth-grade health classes, and also will offer training for high school students who transfer from out-of-state schools and haven’t met the requirement.
“Right now, we feel very, very confident with the way things are running, and we really appreciate the partnership with the hospital to get the teachers certified,” Jones said. “…To have the number of students pass the skills test during last year (reflected) the incredible job that everybody did.”