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The more people prepared to administer CPR in an event of an emergency, the more likely it is that a bystander will be able to offer assistance should they witness someone suffer a cardio or respiratory attack, according to medical experts.

"The faster you begin the chest compressions, or find an AED, or are able to help while you're waiting to get more advanced medical help there, the greater the chance of survival," said Northern High School nurse Kathy Bagian. "That's why it's important to teach in schools."

Northern York County School District was awarded two CPR in Schools Kits through a grant from Penn State Hershey Medical Center and the American Heart Association. Bagian, who is a CPR instructor, saw the district's lack of training materials and applied for the kits on a whim, she said.

The kits: The district was one of 11 that was awarded two free kits, which include 10 mini inflatable manikins, 10 kneel mats with carry bags, 10 practice-while-watching training DVDs, a hand pump for manikin inflation, two mesh collection and storage bags, 50 replacement airways, 50 manikin wipes, 10 replacement face masks and a facilitator guide. If the district were to obtain the kits on its own, it would have paid about $600 a piece.

The kits "allow for the education of large numbers of people in a very consistent and effective matter," said Tammi Bortner, the program manager at the Resuscitation Sciences Training Center at Penn State Hershey Medical center.

The kits also allow for hands-only CPR training, Bortner said, adding how simple but beneficial the method is.

"All you need to know is where to push and what rate and rhythm to push; providing that is a way of pushing oxygen through the body," Bortner said. If someone were "breathing and talking and functioning normally seconds before they collapsed, they still have a fair amount of oxygen inside them, and the act of doing compressions is enough to move it around."

"Those who receive bystander CPR generally do much better, even beyond survival, they are likely to be discharged earlier and more neurologically intact."

Graduation requirement: A bill was introduced to the House in July that would make CPR training a graduation requirement for high school students.

"There is a trend nationally for mandating CPR training in schools," Bortner said, noting that more than 20 states across the country have added the requirement.

And if Pennsylvania were to join them, that would be nearly 100,000 people graduating every year that would know how to administer CPR, Bortner said.

"There are about 1.3 million students every year learning, and it will really have a phenomenal impact," she said. "We're just really glad to help school be a part of that."

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com

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