American Heart Association Pushes for CPR Training in Schools

May 22, 2014

The American Heart Association of New York State is counting down the final days of the legislative session with 22 reasons the State Legislature should consider providing lifesaving training in schools.  They’re sharing daily stories of people who have been saved by CPR and others who weren’t as fortunate. 

Emily Adamczak died during a high school soccer practice from a sudden cardiac arrest
Credit American Heart Association
One of those reasons is Emily Adamczak, who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 14, during soccer practice in her freshman year of high school. 

Her mother, Annette Adamczak, says better education and availability of life-saving equipment were lacking, “She was at soccer practice, on town fields. There were no AEDs nearby, and CPR was not started in time. No one thought that sudden cardiac arrest could happen to a healthy athlete, but it did. Emily passed away during her freshman year of high school. We lost out on so many milestones with her; no first boyfriend, no prom, no graduation; precious moments my family will never get back.” 

Emily Adamczak is the second of the 22 reasons the American Heart Association wants the state Legislature to pass the CPR in Schools bill this year. The Association says about 424,000 people go into sudden cardiac arrest every year when they’re just going about their daily lives. Local American Heart Association Communications Director Kristy Smorol thinks it’s knowledge all students should have:

"The real important part is to take action and that’s why we want to teach more people CPR, so that thousands of lifesavers are entering the population with every graduation. Because it doesn’t take much to really know what to do. But once you know what to do, you can do it."

There are schools in Onondaga County that already participate in the training.  Rural Metro’s Ed Moser already trains students at West Genesee High School.  Last year a teacher there was spotted having cardiac arrest.

"It was witnessed, they were talking to someone, they knew what was going on.  And because they do have AED’s in the schools and the staff had been taught how to do CPR, they immediately ran and got the AED… defibrillated him and brought him back."  

Kevin Foord suffered a sudden cardiac arrest when he was 49, but survived thanks to the CPR training his daughter received in high school
Credit American Heart Association

The teacher is now in good health and has returned to the classroom, and Annette Adamczak has worked since Emily's death providing the training that could have saved her.  “Since 2009, I have trained over 12,000 students in Hands Only CPR at local high schools throughout Western New York, with other instructors, in Emily’s memory. You never know when sudden cardiac arrest may strike, and by passing this law, we can help train the next generation of lifesavers, she says. Ed Moser says teaching students in schools across the state has helped.

"There have been multiples saves in different areas … since they’ve pass the law about having AED’s in the Schools.  So, it only makes more common sense that we would have more saves if we had students that were able to do the CPR, as well."

Kevin Foord is another positive case the AHA has highlighted in its campaign. He had a sudden cardiac arrest when he was 49 years old, and his teenaged daughter was able to save him because she learned CPR in school. In the AHA release, Foord says "Since then, I have walked her down the aisle and become a grandfather twice over. I’m one of the lucky ones.  We need to pass this bill so that those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest don’t miss out on the important – and the everyday – events of life.”