TVF&R helped draft legislation for new law, fire chief says.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Herb Lommen, a teacher at Valley Catholic School, has been a strong advocate for teaching hands-only CPR, including at a Washington Square event during the school year. Thanks to a new law, learning CPR will now be a high school graduation requirement.Oregon students will be learning a new skill when they return to classes this fall, after Governor Kate Brown signed a new law that will require students to learn CPR by the time they graduate from high school.

It’s something that Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Chief Mike Duyck has been wanting for a long time.

”It’s been a goal of ours for a long time,” said Duyck, who has led TVF&R since 2010. “We are really happy to see it get signed by the governor.”

Nearly every day, TVF&R paramedics respond to a cardiac arrest, said Cassanda Ulven, a spokeswoman with TVF&R.

“It can strike anyone, anywhere, and when it does, a patient’s survival depends on immediate CPR by those nearby,” she said. “In fact, CPR doubles the chance of survival for a cardiac patient.”

TVF&R has already partnered with area school districts to teach CPR to middle schoolers. It’s become part of the curriculum at Fowler Middle School in Tigard and at Valley Catholic School in Beaverton, where eighth grade students learn the skill before Thanksgiving break and are required to teach it to their family members as homework.

“Those 75 kids train about 1,000 people,” Duyck said. “That spurred on other school districts to talk to us about what they can do. Some schools wanted to teach kids in the classroom; others do it as part of an assembly.”

Since 2011, approximately 20,000 community members within TVF&R's boundaries have been trained in Hands-Only CPR. A large part of that came through partnerships with schools across the district, including Rosemont and Athey Creek middle schools in West Linn, Wood Middle School in Wilsonville, and Fowler and Hazelbrook middle schools in the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

“This year alone, we trained over 6,500 kids in our service area,” Duyck said.

The legislation requires that students learn hands-only CPR, a variation on traditional CPR that does not require breathing into the other person’s mouth, as part of their P.E. or health classes.

“We know that it’s working,” Duyck said. “We hear stories from kids (we’ve already trained) who say that they saw something happen during summer break and they stepped in to do CPR. One kid trained his father, and he had to do CPR on an Alaska Airlines flight. If not for his child teaching him, he wouldn’t have known what to do.”

TVF&R serves Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, Beaverton, West Linn and Wilsonville. It’s a large district with about 450,000 residents, Duyck said.

With the new law, he said, every one of them will eventually be trained in CPR.

On average, it takes six to 10 minutes for firefighters to get to a cardiac arrest call, so crews are working on borrowed time, Duyck said. But if bystanders can start hands-only CPR before emergency responders arrive, a patient’s chances of survival greatly improve.

“We have highly skilled firefighters and paramedics, but sometimes that’s just not enough,” Duyck said. “What we need to start doing to move those trends in a positive direction is to have more citizens pitch in and help.”

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue was a strong advocate for the bill, Duyck said, and helped to write the legislation.

“The legislation is awesome for us, because we have more kids in our service area that are not being taught CPR and this will allow us to partner with all the schools.”

Oregon becomes the 23rd state to make learning CPR mandatory for all students.

TVF&R estimates that the law will train about 35,000 graduates across the state each year.

Duyck said that the more people who are trained in CPR, the better.

“It’s critically important that if someone goes into cardiac arrest that CPR be started immediately,” he said. “Every minute that a person doesn’t have circulation, the chances of survival drop dramatically. That allows us time to arrive on the scene and still have a viable patient.”

Duyck said that training students in school is the best way to ensure that everyone learns the skill.

“As we get older we think, ‘Oh. I need to learn that,’ and it never seems to happen,” he said. “This way, we at least know that kids leaving high school and starting their adult life will have that skill set and ability to help save a member of their family or a complete stranger.”

The bill sailed through the Oregon Legislature with little opposition. Gov. Brown signed the bill into law on June 10 and it goes into effect July 1.

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