The Chain of Survival

Thanks to the American Heart Association’s CPR in Schools initiative and its focus on hands-only CPR, several hundred thousand new lifesavers will be trained in Texas every year.

By: Rosalyn Mandola

It’s a hot Saturday afternoon, and the whole family is on the beach, enjoying the water. You came prepared – sunscreen, a hat, a first-aid kit in case of scrapes or stings and extra water to stay hydrated. You lean back onto your beach towel and adjust your sunglasses when a scream pierces the sultry calm. “Mom!” Someone has collapsed. Someone isn’t breathing. When there is a cardiac emergency, do you know what to do?

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, but sadly, most people don’t know what to do in a crisis. In fact, 70 percent of Americans report feeling helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they don’t know how to do CPR, they are afraid they will hurt the victim or they are worried about germs from mouth-to-mouth. This alarming statistic could hit close to home, because home is where more than 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur – outside of the hospital setting. Put very simply: The life you save with CPR is mostly likely to be someone you love.

Hands-only CPR
Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which has actually been around since the mid-1700s, has evolved over the years from a specialized technique used exclusively by physicians or health care professionals to be a lifesaving skill that is simple enough for anyone to learn.

Now, the American Heart Association (AHA) endorses hands-only CPR, a way to teach people how to save a life in two simple steps: If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, 1) call 911, and 2) push hard and fast in the center of the chest. And if you’ve seen heard the TV or radio PSAs circulating for the last few years, you know AHA recommends that you push to the beat of the Bee Gees’ classic disco song, “Stayin’ Alive,” a song that is close to a perfect 100 beats per minute. That’s the rate you should perform chest compressions during CPR.

Hands-only CPR has been proven as effective as conventional CPR for sudden cardiac arrest outside of hospital settings. If performed immediately, effective bystander CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. So before you and your family head out to enjoy fun in the sun this summer, take a minute to learn hands-only CPR.

The CPR in Schools Initiative
Thanks to the work of the AHA and other CPR advocates, Texas – and 21 other states – now requires all students be trained in skill-based CPR before graduating from high school. Because immediate bystander response is such a critical link in the chain of survival, the AHA is helping prepare students, their teachers and their families with its CPR in Schools initiative, a more advanced 30-minute hands-on training.

The training introduces and reinforces the importance of recognizing a possible cardiac arrest, calling 911 and providing high-quality chest compressions with minimal interruptions. Studies have shown that trainees, including schoolchildren, can achieve skills proficiency in adult CPR in 30 minutes or less.

Arming kids with the knowledge and skills to perform CPR in an emergency situation increases the chance that victims of cardiac arrest have the help they need until paramedics arrive. Ultimately, the CPR in Schools initiative means several hundred thousand new lifesavers will be trained in CPR in Texas every year. The first high school students to receive this new required training will graduate in 2016.


To learn more about CPR in Schools legislation, go to

Photo Courtesy of American Heart Association

Posted in Uncategorized