AKRON, N.Y. -- Despite wide bipartisan support in the state legislature, a bill requiring CPR training in all New York State high schools was put on hold.
The proposed law would teach the life-saving skill of hands-only CPR to all students by the 12th grade. The bill passed last week in the State Senate and was sponsored by 26 of the 31 members of the Assembly Education Committee. However, the bill was stalled when the committee chair, Catherine Nolan, led an effort to put the bill on hold.
"We're hoping that by raising awareness of what CPR really is we can turn around and tell our legislators that this is what it's really about, protecting our people, our voters." said Annette Adamczak, a mother who lost her daughter Emily 3 years ago due to cardiac failure.
2 On Your Side has followed Annette's advocacy for the bill over the past several months.
Supporters of the bill are quick to point out that it is extremely inexpensive. The training would be added to pre-existing health or physical education curriculums, so the only expense would be the mannequins, which have a low cost and are often free due to donations from community groups.
To underscore the ease with which students can be trained in CPR, Adamczak added that in the past four months, she has been able to train over 2,000 kids with no expense.
Every single state senator from Western New York supported the CPR in Schools bill and voted for it. Nearly all, if not all, the local members of the Assembly were also on board; however, they were never allowed to vote on the measure.
Local Assemblyman Kevin Smardz (R-146th District), who sits on the education committee, said he voted against holding the bill and strongly supported its passage. He said he believed the bill had more than enough votes to pass both the committee and the full Assembly.
The American Heart Association has pushed for the CPR in Schools bill for several years.
"Needless to say we're pretty disappointed that it didn't make it out of the Assembly," said Joshua Lawrence, a member of the local advisory board for the American Heart Association. "We had the backing of the full Senate, and we really thought that this year we had the momentum to get it adopted by the full legislature."
Lawrence also said that 380,000 people suffer from cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year. A person's chances of survival when suffering cardiac arrest in that setting is 11%, but that percentage is doubled or tripled when a bystander knows CPR.
Getting CPR more quickly could have saved Emily's life, Annette said. Three years later, the loss remains difficult, but the mother hopes by training students and pushing for legislation, she can save someone else's child.
"If we could do something in honor of 'Em', then I know that we could potentially save a life," Annette said. "And it could mean that some family doesn't have to go through what we've already done."
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, the chair of the education committee who decided to block the bill, has repeatedly ignored 2 On Your Side's calls for comment; her office did so again Wednesday.
Since the Assemblywoman refuses to explain her position, 2 On Your Side is sharing contact information with her office.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her Albany office number is 518-455-4851, and the numbers for her district offices in Queens are 718-456-9492 and 718-784-3194.