On June 5 this year, Gov. Pat Quinn sent a law through that might have gone under the radar for most of us. I caught it, but it got shuffled to the back during all the craziness in June.
Quinn signed a bill that "will require cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator training for students in all Illinois high schools." The action is part of Quinn’s agenda to ensure the safety of people in every community across Illinois.
House Bill 3724, sponsored by State Rep. Daniel Burke (D-Chicago) and State Sen. John Mulroe (D-Chicago), requires all secondary schools in Illinois to train students on how to properly administer CPR and how to use an AED. The new law allows students to opt out of the training if their parents submit a written objection. The law will be effective for the 2014-15 school year.
On the surface, this sounds like a smart idea. The state firefighters' organization signed off on it, praising it as a great step toward safety in public schools.
Apparently, they forgot what a lot of students are like in public schools.
When I first read this, I took a little timetrip back in my mind's wayback machine to my graduating class of Wyanet High School in 1978. No (well, not much) disrespect is meant when I say I wouldn't trust at least a fourth of my graduating class (of 23) to use an electric toothbrush on me, let alone try CPR or use a defibrillator. And I'm fairly certain most of the class would balk at me playing EMT, although I have been certified.
It's not necessarily know-how — as much as attitude and capabilities. On one end of this spectrum was our class genius. Mentally, she had no peers and today works in the medical profession (IIRC). Back then, she weighed 88 pounds dripping wet. CPR from her would have been more ticklish than treatment.
On the other end of the spectrum was our career high-schooler who had logged more hours in a classroom than any fifth-year teacher. Responsible for more fire alarms than Mrs. O'Leary's cow, he was not the type of person you wanted to see with a sharpened No. 2 pencil, yet alone a defib.
Did you know a defibrillator doesn't shock you alive? If your heart has already flat-lined, a defib can't do a thing to help you. It actually makes sure you're dead in the hopes that your brain will remember how to get your heart and lungs working again. I feel safer already.
Were my classmates aberrations? I'm sure you know better. We all had those people in the classroom. And the vicious prankster. And the class clown (Ahem). None of them were likely to bring a note from Mom saying Junior can't play with electricity.
But Quinn wants ALL high school classmates to know how to use AND HAVE ACCESS TO defibrillators.
I hope he's not surprised with the "shocking" results...
Ken Schroeder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ken Schroeder can be reached at email@example.com.
Shaw Media Staff Writer Ken Schroeder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.