New Florida law will require high school students to learn CPR

Advocates hope new training will save lives

WKMG Click Orlando | By Carolina Cardona | June 21, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a new law that will require certain high school students to learn CPR.

“If it wasn’t for CPR my daughter would not be alive today,” said Shawn Sima, who nearly lost his daughter Lexi when she was 16.

The teen went into sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed while running on a treadmill at a gym.

“A gentleman in the gym back in February of 2016 had just taken CPR and knew what to do when my daughter basically collapsed and died,” Sima, who lives in Melbourne and has been advocating for HB 157 to pass Florida’s legislature, said.

The new law will now require ninth and 11th grade students in Florida’s public school system to learn how to perform CPR.

“It’s a one-hour nationally recognized CPR course in the public health sector of the school,” Rep. Fred Hawkins said. “So many people are afraid to act thinking they’ll do something wrong and Florida has laws to protect them, that’s the one thing that was asked during this whole committee process.”

In January, Hawkins filed HB 157. According to the organization Parent Heart Watch, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and the No. 1 killer of student-athletes.

“When you hear people say, you know, we have the chance to save lives of people that we’ll never meet, this could be the most life-saving bill ever passed by the Florida legislature,” Hawkins said. “We really want to get the EKG portion in and I’ll be running that bill next session this fall.”

For Sima, it’s about saving lives through education.

“The statistics show that at least 20 kids a day in the United States dies suddenly and unexpectedly from sudden cardiac arrest, which is different than a heart attack — it’s an electrical problem, you know, not a clogged artery problem in our youth,” he said. “It takes on average eight to 12 minutes for the ambulance to show up to your house. The key is you have three to five minutes tops to do something for your loved one.

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