SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah student athlete's life was saved last year when two teachers performed CPR and revived the teen's heart after he collapsed in a school hallway.
Now, a Utah lawmaker wants to ensure all students have access to the life-saving measures and training that likely saved the life of Layton teen Connor Moss.
Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, is backing a bill that would require the Utah State Board of Education to establish guidelines to prevent sudden cardiac arrest that is common among student athletes.
"This bill ensures those in schools are trained in CPR and can handle that type of situation," Adams said. "We all know there's no fail-safe in trying to save someone's life, but surely training helps."
SB270 requires coaches and trainers who deal with students to be current on their CPR training, and it also mandates that students showing symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest be removed from play.
Marc Watterson, with the American Heart Association of Utah, said about 90 percent of all sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital setting, and there is about an 8 percent chance of survival.
Watterson classifies sudden cardiac arrest as stemming from unknown "electrical problems" within the heart, often resulting from genetic defect. Other heart attacks can be caused by clogged arteries, and symptoms and onset are very different from the unexpected collapse of sudden cardiac arrest.
"If someone is there and knows CPR and has access to an AED (automated external defibrillator), it will double or triple the chances for survival," Watterson told members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday.
In 2014, the Utah Legislature passed a law requiring CPR and AED training for all high schoolers, making it the 18th in the nation to require the life-saving skill. The correct way to issue CPR, which is now more commonly done without mouth-to-mouth breathing, can be found online at www.cpr.heart.org.
Moss, a 17-year-old varsity football player at Northridge High School, had been lifting weights on April 27, 2016, and went to the hallway to rest when he collapsed. The school trainer and another teacher were there and able to help.
"That was a happy story, but many aren't," Adams said, adding that he hopes the bill also extends awareness of what he calls "a significant and important issue" facing students.
Adams' bill doesn't impose penalties for not training coaches and doesn't cost the state anything, only suggests training that Adams said districts are "already trying to implement anyway."