American Heart Association is working to create a law ensuring every student trained in hands-only CPR before they graduate.


One minute. That’s all it takes for a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival to diminish by 10 percent, if CPR isn’t administered immediately. When we do the math, we know that if EMS arrives eight minutes after a victim collapses, the individual has only a 20 percent chance of survival, if CPR isn’t administered. Those who receive care after 10 minutes or more often don’t make it at all.

As healthcare professionals, most of us know how to administer CPR, but unfortunately the majority of Kentucky’s population does not. We’ve trained them well to call 9-1-1, however 70 percent of Americans feel helpless to act during a cardiac arrest. Most stand idly by, waiting for EMS to arrive, watching the person they know or love slowly die.

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 326,000 out-of-hospital arrests occurring every year. Studies also show that the life you save with CPR will more than likely be that of a loved one since most cardiac arrests happen at home.

For this reason, the American Heart Association is working in Frankfort to ensure that our future generations know the basic skill of saving a life. Their goal is to create a law that would ensure every student is trained in chest compressions, also known as Hands-only CPR, before they graduate.

CPR has been proven to double or triple the chances of a victim surviving cardiac arrest. In only a few short years we could have hundreds of thousands of young adults who know how to respond in a cardiac emergency; bringing these skills into our companies, our neighborhoods and our homes. This initiative will save countless lives across the Commonwealth, but to do so we need the medical community’s support to help our legislators understand the need for this law.

It’s been proven that training costs the school little to nothing, and students can learn the skill in as little as one class period.

To date, 27 states have passed similar laws ensuring their students know CPR basics. These laws are ensuring 1.6 Million students learn CPR every year. Imagine the benefit to Kentucky once we pass our law.

Get involved and make a difference in CPR education by visiting to contact your State Senator and Representative.Then please consider joining us for our Lobby Day on Tuesday, February 9 in Frankfort where advocates will meet directly with their representatives for a healthier Kentucky. For more information or to register, visit

-Susan Smyth, MD, is a cardiologist at UK HealthCare and Lexington VA Medical Center.



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