The Importance of CPR Education for Kids and Adults

Did you know that CPR education is now required in the D.C. metro area to graduate high school? Trainings are designed by the American Heart Association to train groups of 20 students in one class period. Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia all require CPR education in order to graduate high school. The requirements for students include learning adult and child CPR, how to respond to choking and use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED). Thirty-seven states in the United States now have this as a graduation requirement.

So why is it so important to learn CPR? Approximately 350,000 cardiac arrests occur every year outside of the hospital setting. Less than 10 percent of those survive. A cardiac arrest is when an electrical malfunction occurs in the heart, causing it to stop beating normally. Victims will begin gasping or become unresponsive within minutes, and can die soon after if there is no intervention. Only half of these victims get the immediate help they need. Sadly, 70 percent of cardiac arrests happen in the home, and more than half of unresponsive victims from a cardiac arrest are surrounded by loved ones who are unprepared for a CPR emergency. Learning CPR and how to use an AED will prevent you from watching a loved one die in front of you, simply because you did not know how to respond.

Life saving skills have been documented back to the 1700’s when mouth-to-mouth was first used on a drowning victim. Today the widespread application of user- friendly AEDs in the community aims to decrease the risk of dying from a cardiac arrest. As time passes and the irregular heart rhythm that causes the cardiac arrest progresses, the risk of dying increases by 7-10 percent. Simple and easy-to-use AEDs now appear in airports, federal buildings, golf courses, shopping malls and schools. Defibrillation is the process of sending an electrical shock to the heart to allow the return of a normal heart rhythm. Washington, D.C. and Maryland require by law AED placement in health clubs and gyms. Virginia requires AEDs in schools. There are also Good Samaritan laws that protect those who respond in an emergency, with the intent to save a life, from any civil liability or injury.

The American Heart Association (AHA) and our own state legislatures have set some high goals for all of us to start learning these life saving skills, not only for high schoolers, but for our entire community. By 2020, the AHA aims to train 20 million people in life saving CPR skills. This past June we celebrated National CPR and AED Awareness Week to raise awareness of the need to train effectively in our communities.

Stork Childbirth Education trains new parents, nannies, caregivers and healthcare professionals in CPR for infants, children and adults. We train using the American Heart Association guidelines and hold group and private classes, in the D.C. Metro area and Baltimore. Dr. Nicole Lang and Beth Shedlosky, NP, both in private practice at Washington Pediatric Associates, are hosting a family CPR and AED class on September 23rd at 10:00 a.m. To enroll, visit If you have more questions, email us at