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South Carolina legislation would require schools to develop a cardiac emergency response plan and T-CPR training

Columbia – Every year in the U.S., 356,000 people have cardiac arrests outside of hospitals, and more than 23,000 of these are kids under 18. About 40% of these cases happen during sports, and only 40% receive immediate help before emergency teams get there. In South Carolina, schools often don’t have a plan for dealing with heart emergencies, and 911 operators might not know how to guide callers in giving CPR. However, two new laws proposed in the General Assembly aim to fix this issue.

Cardiac emergency response plan in the focus

These laws would create a cardiac emergency response plan (CERP) for schools. This plan includes steps to lower deaths from heart emergencies. It involves choosing a team to respond, making sure automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are placed correctly, training people in CPR and AED use, doing practice drills, and working with local emergency medical services (EMS).

“In my medical and volunteer experience, I’ve seen firsthand the vital importance of Telecommunicator CPR training,” said Joshua Trout, CEO of Encompass Health, Board Chairman and Heart Walk chairman of the Upstate American Heart Association. “Equipping our telecommunicators with this training is not just legislation; it’s a lifeline that can save precious moments and lives. Advocating for these bills is advocating for a safer and healthier tomorrow,” said Trout.

There is no law currently in South Carolina

Right now, South Carolina doesn’t have a set plan for how schools should handle heart emergencies. The law says high schools must have AEDs, but it doesn’t say they have to be easy to get to quickly if someone has a sudden cardiac arrest on campus. Also, there’s no rule saying AEDs must be near where sports practices and games happen, even though they could save a student athlete’s life.

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The proposed Smart Heart Act wants schools and sports groups to have emergency plans for serious sports-related health problems and would make it a rule for high school sports coaches to learn CPR, how to use AEDs, and first aid. “CPR can hugely increase the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. With more young athletes facing heart problems, it’s important to have safety steps in place at school sports events,” said Dr. Christopher Huffman from MUSC Health Columbia and the Midlands American Heart Association.

To help people having a cardiac arrest get CPR faster, 911 operators could be taught to give CPR directions over the phone, known as “T-CPR.” In South Carolina, 911 operators get a week of training, and maybe more from their local place of work, but there’s no rule that they all have to know T-CPR. Where the 911 caller is could affect if they get an operator who knows how to give good CPR instructions, which could save lives.

A new law, the South Carolina T-CPR Training Law, would make it necessary for all 911 operators who deal with medical emergencies to learn how to give top-notch T-CPR advice. This training would cover what to do if someone has a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, how to guide callers through CPR with just chest compressions, and would need operators to keep learning more over time.

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To support these changes, you can join the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure network by texting SMARTSC to 46839. Members will get updates on the bills and ways to help push them forward with lawmakers.

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