Leslie Wheeler's class at Nelson Elementary School practices CPR.

By Lily Belcher

On July 1, a new law took effect that will implement CPR training for students in middle school and high school.

Committee Substitute/House Bill 157 was first filed with the House on January 4 and was voted on unanimously by the Florida House and Senate on April 26. The legislation, which was signed into a law by Governor Ron DeSantis on June 21, will encourage schools to provide CPR and basic first aid training for their sixth and eighth graders and require the training for ninth and 11th-graders.

However, Hillsborough County Schools will not see too drastic of a change, as hands-only CPR, heat acclimation tips and caring for basic injuries are already taught to some elementary and middle school students and all high school students through Health Opportunities through Physical Education (HOPE) classes.

The enforcement of CPR training has saved lives before. Since many high school teachers and coaches have been trained in CPR, Plant City High School coach Carrie Mahon was able to perform CPR on student Charlie Curtis, who fell into cardiac arrest while running laps in 2014. Curtis’ story, among others, furthered the push to require CPR training in classrooms.

“With the new bill that passed, we are working on updating all our pacing guides to make sure it definitely is…stated on there and includes the bill number,” explained Supervisor for K-12 Physical Education Ashlee Cappucci. “We will continue with yearly trainings so that our teachers are equipped to provide any updated information and materials.”

In order to ensure the CPR and first aid training is taught correctly, the Hillsborough County Schools District is working with the American Heart Association, Collet Bobs with BayCare’s Heart Healthy Curriculum and Joel Strom and Charles Sand from STEMI.

Strom, who runs the STEMI meetings, is responsible for relaying information about recent heart events and how Hillsborough County Schools are responding and preparing for similar events if they should occur.

“American Heart Association donates mannequins and is a huge partner with us to help with educating our students each year,” added Cappucci. “Eric Stommes from the American Heart Association is our district support and works with us to ensure students are educated on a healthy heart.”

The CPR training will be included in the 2021-22 school curriculum and open to any students, not just the specified grade levels.

For more information, contact Media Outreach Department Manager Erin Maloney at erin.maloney@hcps.net.

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