ALBANY, New York – Dominic’s room in Queens is the same as it was when he left for college in 2009. He never lived in that room again – sudden cardiac arrest claimed his life on October 5, 2009.
But thanks to action that the New York state Board of Regents took Sept. 17, lives like Dominic’s have a better chance of being saved.
The Regents approved the regulation that will make CPR in Schools part of the school curriculum beginning Oct. 7.
Dominic’s mother, Melinda Murray, was among the people who thanked the New York state Board of Regents for putting the final stamp of approval on the CPR in Schools Law in Albany yesterday.
“We are so grateful that the New York Regents saw how important this is,” Murray said. “We are so pleased that the journey has ended in this positive, life-affirming way. After 15 years of advocacy, beginning Oct. 7, Hands-Only CPR will be taught in New York’s schools.”
For victims of sudden cardiac arrest like Dominic, having CPR performed doubles or triples the chances of survival. The CPR in Schools Law will make sure everyone who graduates from a New York high school has learned how to perform Hands-Only CPR and understands how to use an AED.
Murray was joined by other American Heart Association advocates – including survivors – who have worked for 15 years to make sure that New York has a CPR in Schools law. The advocates will all wear red. New York is now the 26th state with this law, meaning that more than 50 percent of the nation’s students will be learning Hands-Only CPR – that’s some 1.5 million students.
Three of the advocates who joined Murray were also mothers who lost children to sudden cardiac arrest. All four have formed foundations that have increased the awareness of sudden cardiac arrest – and helped save lives.
“Since the passage of Louis’ Law in 2002, which called for the placement of AEDs in public places, 87 lives have been saved in New York,” said Karen Acompora of Northport. “Nothing replaces our son Louis, who died of commotio cordis when he was 14, but the CPR in Schools Law honors his short life by giving others a chance at life.”
Madison McCarthy was 5 when sudden cardiac arrest claimed her life in a kindergarten classroom.
“Madison was surrounded by the best people possible, but without an emergency plan in place, nobody took action,” said Madison’s mother, Suzy McCarthy, of Evans.
McCarthy also worked on Louis’ Law, then turned her attention to CPR in Schools.
“It’s been 14 years since Madison died,” McCarthy said. “I know she’s been peering down at us, guiding us, making sure that more children will survive.”
Emily Adamczak was 14 when she died six years ago. Her mother, Annette Adamczak of Akron, has since trained 18,000 students in Hands-Only CPR.
“The ripple effects of this action will be felt across the state, as we make a difference in the lives of our children,” Adamczak said. “Together, where hands and hearts meet, a life can be saved; one heartbeat at a time.”
Sudden cardiac arrest survivors were among the advocates, including 15-year-old Joe Mendrick of Colonie, who was 11 when a baseball hit him in the chest and stopped his heart. Joel Stashenko, also of Colonie, whose son Casey – who had learned CPR in his school – revived him. JJ Pesany of Lancaster, a senior in high school, suffered an electrical shock and was saved by CPR.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the CPR in Schools bill, sponsored by then-Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach and then-Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, into law in October of 2014.
The law called on the state Department of Education to ask the Regents for a recommendation on the instruction of CPR in schools. The Regents recommended that it be included in the curriculum, and directed the Department to draft the rule for public comment. Their approval yesterday was the final step for the CPR in Schools law.
About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world.
We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country.