We see it in the news far too often. A student is at football practice or playing basketball or just walking to class when he suddenly collapses and dies from sudden cardiac arrest.
When a tragedy like this happens, most of us feel helpless. We think there’s nothing we can do in the face of such an emergency. But, in fact, there’s a lot we can do.
All of us can be part of what the American Heart Association calls the “chain of survival,” which focuses on immediate treatment — even before emergency responders arrive — with CPR and an automated external defibrillator, or AED, which gives the victim the best chance of survival and a second chance at life.
That’s why I have introduced the Teaching Children to Save Lives Act (H.R. 3189). This bill will help strengthen the second link in the chain of survival by providing grants for programs to teach schoolchildren and teens CPR and how to use an AED — knowledge and skills they can carry into adulthood.
Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S., killing almost 300,000 people annually — including about 6,500 of our young people. And sadly, that trend is only growing, especially among our student athletes.
This tragedy is compounded by the fact that fewer than one in 10 SCA victims survives, when studies have shown that survival rates can be 34 percent or higher. In other words, 100,000 lives could be saved if more people knew how to be a critical link in the chain of survival. By training the next generation of students in CPR and AED response, they may one day save the life of a classmate, friend, family member or complete stranger.
October is National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, and I ask all my colleagues in joining me and becoming a co-sponsor of the Teaching Children to Save Lives Act.
I am also working with the SCA Coalition to advance this legislation. Please “Take a Stand Against Sudden Cardiac Arrest” by joining us Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building foyer to learn more about what all of us can do to reduce the rate of death from SCA in our country.
Whether young or old, let’s not wait for another tragedy and the needless loss of life to sudden cardiac arrest. Let’s unite to help save lives by teaching a new generation CPR and AED use. It’s a legacy all of us should be proud to leave.
Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a registered nurse, is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.