Bill would require schools to teach first aid

Posted: Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A few years from now, Alaska might be a safer place to be if suddenly in need of first aid.

A bill introduced Jan. 9 in the Alaska House would require high schools to include certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid as part of the basic curricula required for graduation. Another bill, Senate Bill 4, including the same language, was introduced last session.

House Bill 348, introduced by Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, would require each school district in the public school system to initiate and provide for certifiable instruction of resuscitation and first aid for all students deemed capable.

Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage, and Sen. Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, introduced SB 4 in the Senate side.

Gruenberg said it was a tragic incident in which the son of a friend received a stab wound in the thigh, but because no one nearby knew how to stem the profuse bleeding, the young man died.

“The father suggested that if there were first aid instruction in schools, maybe the death wouldn’t have occurred,” Gruenberg said.

That led to introduction of Senate Bill 4 last year and the House companion bill this session, he said.

Neither measure addresses the additional cost school districts might face providing the first aid education. However, Gruenberg said he doesn’t envision turning high school seniors into fully trained emergency medical technicians, only providing some basic first aid skills.

“The school districts could pick up the minor cost, if they wish,” he said, adding he’d heard there was some interest expressed by paramedics in Anchorage to provide the training there.

If all graduates were required to have some first aid training, and if a sizable portion kept up those skills over time, within a few years the number of Alaskans with basic first aid skills would grow significantly, Gruenberg said.

The ability to save lives that might otherwise be lost would be well worth the cost, he said.

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