Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation to be taught in Arizona high schools

Learning Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation — more commonly known as CPR — is becoming an increased skill sought within Arizona schools.

When a human heart stops beating, the act of pushing hard and fast in the center of a person’s chest will double or triple the chance of survival.

Starting next school year, a 2016 Senate Bill will require all public and charter school districts in Arizona to teach students CPR at least once during their high school career.

Additionally, the Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department and Superstition Fire and Medical District are dedicated to teaching students the lifesaving effort.

Hands-only CPR

In one year, 475,000 Americans die from a cardiac arrest, according to the American Heart Association. Of that, 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year.

For the general public or bystanders who witness an adult collapse, compression-only CPR, or hands-only CPR, is encouraged.

Hands-only CPR consists of two steps:

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

A study testing sixth-grade students and their capacity to use hands-only CPR found that the majority of children could perform CPR in the correct location and at the appropriate compression rate, according to the American Heart Association.

Arizona Gov. Ducey signed Senate Bill 1137 requiring CPR training of high school students before graduation. Next school year, 2019-20, every student in a public or charter school in Arizona will be required to learn hands-only CPR at least once in his or her high school education.

CPR in Apache Junction schools

Apache Junction and Gold Canyon students are taught hands-only CPR at the schools by Superstition Fire and Medical District officials.

Tina Gerola

“I teach hands-only CPR to the sixth-grade students in our fire district,” Tina Gerola, SFMD fire and life safety educator, said.

“This presentation also includes recognizing an emergency and 9-1-1. Each student is required to perform the skill. I am looking forward to working our high schools next year and seeing where SFMD can fit in and assist.”

Officials with the Apache Junction Unified School District in early 2019 will decide how and when high-school students will be taught, according to Heather Wallace, AJUSD director of educational services.

Heather Wallace

“We are working on figuring out the best way to teach CPR and we will most likely have a better idea of when that will be taught sometime in February as we begin to plan curriculum for the new school year,” she said.

An official from Apache Trail High School, a charter school in Apache Junction, could not be reached for comment.

CPR classes are offered the first Saturday of every month at the Superstition Fire and Medical District’s regional training center, 3700 E. 16th Ave. in Apache Junction. Call 480-982-4440 or go to the drop-down menu at the “community safety and education” tab at to register.

A minimum of six people and a maximum of 30 can be taught in the district’s community room. They watch an American Heart Association video, get instruction and do the hands-on portion with mannequins.

CPR in Queen Creek schools

J.O. Combs Unified School District plans to teach CPR in its physical education classes, according to Kelly Guerra, the district’s coordinator of community education.

“CPR will be taught in 11th grade in PE classes. Statute does not require students to be tested for proficiency, so students will have a lesson in class on hands-only CPR,” she said. “Also, as the lesson meets the requirements and does not result in cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification, the class will be taught by the PE teacher.”

Queen Creek High School students this year received CPR training from Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department firefighters, according to Stephanie Ingersoll, Queen Creek Unified School District PR/marketing specialist.

“The Queen Creek High School student body was recently exposed to hands-only CPR training under the guidance of Queen Creek Fire and Medical on Nov. 21. This aligns with the Senate Bill that you referenced. To be clear, the students were not certified during this training,” she said.

“Separately, ongoing CPR training is taught in our medical professions, sports medicine and early childhood education classes at Queen Creek High School offered through our Career and Technical Education Department. Medical-professions students receive a higher level of CPR training, which is required in order to work in a hospital,” Ms. Ingersoll said.

“A student’s proficiency in CPR is tested using the National Heart Savers standards,” she said.
QCUSD officials say the district has one certified cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructor.

The Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department offers free CPR classes for groups of six or more. The four-hour class is open to individuals 13 years of age and older.

The class must be held within the town and the group is responsible for securing the location. To schedule a class, e-mail with name and phone number; reference CPR in the subject line, according to

American Heart Association

The American Heart Association offers its own “CPR in Schools” training kit, enabling students to learn the lifesaving skills of CPR in one class period, according to the national organization. The kit teaches adult and child CPR and choking relief, and familiarizes students with using an automated external defibrillator.

According to Dr. Jacob A. Chavez, superintendent of the Cartwright School District and board member of the American Heart Association’s Phoenix Division, there is a chance that a cardiac arrest can occur within a classroom.

“Each year, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests take place outside of the hospital and occur in a public setting,” Dr. Chavez said. “This means there is a chance that a student or educator will go into cardiac arrest at school. Studies show that bystanders who have any type of CPR exposure are 70 percent more likely to take action when they witness someone suddenly go into cardiac arrest.”

Dr. Chavez says when CPR is administered immediately after cardiac arrest, a person’s chance of survival doubles or triples.

“…So it’s imperative that we teach today’s youth the lifesaving skills of CPR,” he said.

“The American Heart Association’s CPR in Schools Training Kits equip students and educators with the lifesaving skills of CPR. The kits are reusable, designed specifically for the needs of schools and one kit can help train hundreds of individuals. It’s certainly advantageous for more schools to embrace CPR kits and courses. By teaching more students and educators CPR, we’re putting more qualified lifesavers in our communities.”

Melissa Rosequist, who contributed to this story, can be e-mailed at

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at

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