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Mayfield, Altman Push for Mandatory CPR Training in High Schools

Mayfield, Altman push for mandatory CPR training in high schools

Shawn Sima and his daughter, Lexi, are advocates for mandatory CPR training for Florida High School students. Lexi survived a sudden cardiac arrest as a 16-year-old because she received immediate CPR. (Photo: John McCarthy/FLORIDA TODAY)

VIERA — "I died doing something I've been doing every day of my life," Lexi Sima told a couple hundred of her schoolmates at Viera High School Tuesday afternoon.

That she could make such a statement is a testament to the power of CPR.

In February 2016, Sima, then 16, was running on a treadmill at a Viera gym when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

Luckily, others at the gym were trained in CPR. Their intervention and the use of of an automated external defibrillator revived Sima and kept her alive while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Today, Sima is back at Viera High and just finished her final season of cheerleading.

But with football season now over, she has a become a cheerleader for a cause: Making CPR training mandatory for all Florida high school students. She spoke to fellow students wearing a gray T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Heart Warrior."

Florida is one of just 13 states that doesn't require CPR training for high school graduation.

State Sen. Debbie Mayfield and State Rep. Thad Altman hope to change that. The two Republican lawmakers have introduced two bills to make CPR training mandatory for Florida high school students.

Mayfield and Altman joined Sima and her father, Shawn, in asking the Viera High students to help push to get the bills passed.

"What's more important in our schools than learning to save human lives?" Altman asked the students gathered in Viera High's auditorium.

About 350,000 people a year suffer sudden cardiac arrests, according to the American Heart Society. About 90 percent of the time when that happens outside of a hospital, the person dies.

Immediate CPR can triple the chance of survival.

Shawn Sima told the students that seconds count when dealing with sudden cardiac arrests, noting that every minute without CPR lessens the chance of survival by 10 percent.

He used a drowning scenario to emphasize how important it is to use CPR until a ambulance can arrive.

Sima asked the students to imagine they were at a backyard barbecue with all their friends and loved ones and that one fell into the pool and was motionless at the bottom.

"Are you going to call 911 and wait for them come and save your loved one?" he asked. "No. You are going to jump in and save them."

Brevard and a handful of other counties in the state already have made CPR training a requirement for graduations. But previous attempts by Altman to make it a statewide requirement died in committee.

Now Altman is hoping that students can use their far-flung social media networks to help drum up support for CPR effort. "The only way we can make this work is if the people rise up," Altman told the students.

Brevard County high school students have had success pushing for legislation in the past.

Students from Eau Gallie and then later Viera High pushed for passage of a bill that requires government entities to fly American flags that were made in America.

Gov. Rick Scott held a signing for the All-American Flag Act in Viera High's auditorium in 2015.

School Board member Matt Susin, who as a teacher worked with the students pushing that bill, asked them the work their magic again.

"Maybe the governor will be back here again signing this into law," he said of the CPR bill.

Story Credit: http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/2017/11/28/mayfield-altman-push-mandatory-cpr-training-high-schools/901260001/