If you saw someone go into sudden cardiac arrest, would you know what to do? One answer can be found within three letters: CPR. Performing CPR on someone who goes into sudden cardiac arrest triples their chances of surviving, according to the American Heart Association.
Ann Thompson has become a big advocate for CPR. Her passion for the life-saving technique stems from her own experience. Not a day goes by that she does not think about her son, Adam. Adam died from a heart condition when he was just 16. At the time, she did not realize he went into sudden cardiac arrest, and now she wonders how CPR could have changed the outcome.
"You know, if I could turn back time, I'm just so shocked that it never entered my mind. I didn't know the signs of sudden cardiac arrest. My husband didn't, my daughter - none of us did," Thompson said.
Nearly two years after Adam's death, she is still trying to help prevent other moms and dads from losing their children. That involved CPR dummies, and heart screenings. She has teamed up with the American Heart Association in Sioux Falls, and lending her voice to support Senate Bill 145. If passed, SB 145 would make learning hands-only CPR a graduation requirement for South Dakota students.
"We're very excited about the opportunity to basically train an entire generation of lifesavers," Chrissy Meyer, American Heart Association, said.
Hands-Only CPR is CPR with chest compressions, but without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It is recommended for use by people who see a teen or adult suddenly collapse in an "out-of-hospital" setting, according to AHA. Learning it is about a 20-minute process. Many schools in South Dakota already teach CPR, including the Sioux Falls School District. Students in sixth grade learn CPR. Starting next year, not only will sixth graders learn it, but seventh and eighth graders will review it.
"Almost 90-percent of these things happen in the home. If you learn CPR, it's probably not going to be a stranger you're helping. It's going to be a family member or a loved one," Meyer said.
Senate Bill 145 is set for a hearing in Pierre on February 10.
"My message to those kids is, look at what you know. This is what you can do now. You can save a life and that's where they get excited," Thompson said.