By: Casey J. Bortnick
"I feel incredibly lucky,” said Olivia Fish.
Olivia was warming up on her school's indoor track in March of 2010 when she collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. Her teammates and her coaches came to her aid, and with the help of an automated external defibrillator, saved her life.
"Just having a coach who knew what he was doing and kids that knew at least to get the AED,” Olivia said.
It's a story with a happy ending, but the American Heart Association says most people aren't that lucky. Just 11 percent of people who go into cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive.
“Even having that simple hands-on training which is very quick and simple is incredibly important, especially in the first few minutes of someone going down,” said Dr. Stephen Cook, University of Rochester Medical Center.
Cook says training more people in rapid assessment, hands-only chest compressions, and how to use an AED would make a big difference.
"It's really important to kind of overcome that fear and not wait, because it is minutes," Cook said.
Cook, who also does advocacy work for the American Heart Association, says school districts are still concerned about liability and cost. But he says the state's good samaritan law covers liability. Hands only CPR kits, and an instructional DVD are available for minimal costs. Cook is also encouraging districts to partner will local EMS agencies who provide training free of charge.
Sponsored in the State Senate by Jim Alesi, the CPR in Schools bill is headed to the Senate floor for a vote.
"It's not required for graduation or for course credit or anything else, it's just so that we'll have a new generation of young people with these life saving skills," Alesi said.
Now a sophomore, Olivia recently completed training to become certified in CPR. It’s a simple way, she says, of giving back.
“I think it would be extremely nerve-wracking, but I know if some did it for me it would push me to do it for them."
After she collapsed, doctors discovered Olivia had a condition that causes the rhythm of her heart to speed up. She has an internal defibrillator that shocks her heart back into rhythm.
The American Heart Association is pushing to get this bill passed before the legislative session ends June 21st.
For more information on the bill and and American Heart Association's educational campaign click the link below.