Adding new laws to the Indiana code is a process, a life-cycle. First, a bill has to make it through committee, successfully pass through both chambers of the Legislature and then, it must be signed into law by the governor. While this might seem like a challenging process, and you might think that all of the hard work is done; this could not be further from the case.
In fact, in many instances, the work is only beginning because the law still needs to be implemented, which is one of the most important steps in the process. I realized this personally when a new law I authored this past session recently went into effect. This specific piece of legislation, which I was very proud to champion, requires each school corporation in Indiana to include CPR training as part of their high school health curriculum.
On Wednesday, I was invited to take part in a news conference, hosted by the American Heart Association (AHA), at Frankfort Senior High School in Clinton County. At the event, the AHA presented Clinton County Schools with six CPR kits in order to help them comply with this new law.
In addition, AHA instructors, with the help of Frankfort High School students, demonstrated how easy it is for students to learn CPR. Superintendent Ritz and Clinton County school principals and students all attended the event to acknowledge that by learning CPR, we all have the ability to save a life, which is something I know firsthand to be true.
Two summers ago, my wife and I were at Mike Harvey’s Super Gold Sock-Hop with a group of our friends, one of whom was Jessie Harper, a nurse. This event has been coming to the Evansville area for years, and since my wife and I love to dance, we would go almost every year. On this night in particular, a man named Steve, who we also knew as a regular there, experienced a heart attack on the dance floor.
Jessie and I alternated manual CPR for about 10-15 minutes while we waited for an ambulance to arrive. Fortunately, he lived and was back on the dance floor last year. So, when the AHA approached me with the idea of authoring this bill, I could not say no. Steve’s life is proof that CPR works and saves lives.
Unfortunately, 70 percent of Americans either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed. That is why I think it is imperative that every high school student in Indiana graduates with the skills necessary to save a life, and I am proud to have now taken steps to make this goal a reality.
One thing I have learned through all of this is that when you are trying to implement something statewide, it is a process and takes time. Some schools already have CPR kits while others do not. That is why it is great to see organizations like the AHA offering donations and assistance to schools that are eager, but may be unable to purchase the CPR kits at this time. I have also been working diligently with Eli Lilly, IU Health and community foundations across the state to garner more support so that other schools that need help in complying with this new law are able to do so at no cost to them.
The more educated the public, especially our young Hoosiers, are about recognizing and responding to the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest, the more lives we can save. I cannot stress enough how commendable it is that the AHA has donated these invaluable kits. They are an incredible organization that I am proud to have partnered with. While sudden cardiac arrest remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States, I am confident that together, we can lower that statistic.