Junior Killeen McCans Testifies in Harrisburg for CPR Training in Schools

Harrisburg, Pa. – On Monday, April 4, more than 100 volunteers and staff with the American Heart Association converged on the State Capitol in Harrisburg to advocate for public policies that will improve the health and safety of the community, including the importance of teaching CPR in schools. A press conference held to kick-off the day featured the testimony of Cardinal O’Hara High School junior Killeen McCans, who took the initiative to train nearly 700 students at her school in CPR and AED basics in one day.
 
 
Inspired after witnessing the power of CPR to save a life of an infant during an ambulance ride-along, McCans recognized the importance of putting these lifesaving skills into the hands of more people, starting with her classmates. After obtaining her school’s permission, she set out to make her vision of a school-wide CPR training day a reality by recruiting trainers and resources from multiple health systems and ambulance companies. In total, more than 50 trainers, aided by more than 200 CPR mannequins, cooperated to lead the training last April.
 
Killeen McCans became certified as an EMT last summer and continues her mission to educate more people about the importance of learning CPR.
 
“Unlike me, most high school students have not experienced seeing someone that was once clinically dead come back to life thanks to CPR. For this reason, it is the responsibility of those who do recognize its importance to educate students and do whatever possible to instill in them the competence and courage to act in an emergency,” said McCans. “CPR training is attainable for any school, and having more CPR trained civilians in our commonwealth will save lives.”
 
The American Heart Association supports House Bill 1464, sponsored by Representative Stephen Barrar (R-Delaware, Legislative District 136), and Senate Bill 948, sponsored by former Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware, Senate District 9). The legislation would provide high school students with a one-time, 30-minute hands-only CPR training. Unfortunately, the House and Senate education committees have not yet taken action to move these bills out of committee. Twenty-eight other states, including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia, have passed similar CPR legislation.
 
"CPR is like riding a bike," said Rep. Nick Kotik, co-sponsor of House Bill 1464. “Once you know the basic skills, you will remember them for life. Which is why we need to educate the community in CPR. And what better place to educate a whole generation than in school." 
 
"As chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I was happy to introduce House Bill 1464," said Rep. Stephen Barrar through a statement. "When sudden cardiac arrest happens, time is of the essence. Bystanders are quick to dial 911, but not everyone is confident enough to start CPR. My legislation would ensure these skills are taught at a young age and empower our children with important life skills."
 
Over 350,000 people suffer from sudden cardiac arrest in the United States each year, and four out of five of those cardiac arrests occur in the home. Often, bystanders do not know how to start CPR or are afraid to perform it incorrectly. CPR, especially if started immediately, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.
 
American Heart Association volunteers will also advocate in support of Senate Bill 567, sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery, Senate District 12), and House Bill 682, sponsored by Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery, Legislative District 152), which strengthens the Clean Indoor Air Act by removing workplace exemptions, in an effort to protect Pennsylvania workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. On Nov. 17, 2015, the House Health Committee passed House Bill 682, but adopted two amendments that would allow smoking to continue in social clubs and casinos. A recent poll commissioned by the American Heart Association and conducted by Susquehanna Polling & Research shows that 71 percent of Pennsylvania voters support a statewide smoke-free workplace law.
 
For more information about the American Heart Association’s advocacy initiatives, visit www.yourethecure.org
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