New bill requires CPR training in middle school

Wisconsin public, charter and private high schools are currently required to teach their students CPR but a new bill will require schools to expand that training into middle schools.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recently signed a bill that will require all students in grades 7-12 to get cardiopulmonary resuscitation training.

The new requirement will be implemented in the 2017-2018 school year but it’s something the Onalaska School District has been doing for a while now and the health teacher said he is happy the state government is finally seeing the training for what it truly is, life-saving.

Onalaska High School juniors Olivia Copeland and Morgan Gargaro are currently going through a first aid class.

“We go through a handbook each day and we do practical’s on people, conscious victims, unconscious victims,” said Gargaro.

Part of that class includes CPR training.

“I think at first it was a little confusing because there is the adult, child and infant, but after a while it got easier to process,” said Copeland.

But Copeland and Gargaro both say the more they practice, the more it becomes like second nature.

“It will stick in my head,” said Copeland.

“Ifeel like once you learn it, it is engraved in your memory,” said Gargaro.

That is why they support Walker’s new bill to teach all Wisconsin middle school students CPR starting in seventh grade.

“I don’t think it’s that hard. It’s practical,” said Gargaro.

It’s something the Onalaska School District has been doing at the middle school level for a while now, but health educator Curt McIlquham admits it can be expensive.

“Those mannequins are $800 for six of them and they don’t last more than five years,” said McIlquham.

McIlquham said if the school district isn’t already offering the course at a younger age, the new requirement could cost school districts more money, which is something the La Crosse School District may run into.

“What it looks like at this point, I am not sure. What the actual training devices are going to be at this point, I am not sure either,” saud Jon Baudek, La Crosse School District health supervisor.

But both educators believe if the training saves live, it’s a necessary investment.

“If someone remembers part of what we teach and it saves a brother, sister, aunt, uncle or a friend, it’s well worth it,” said McIlquham.

“It’s likely that in some point in everyone’s life, they are going to see someone who needs help and you would want the type of people confident enough with the skills to say, ‘Hey, I know what to do to help this person,’ rather than to keep walking by and watching,” said Baudek.

Teaching CPR in all Wisconsin high schools has only been mandatory since 2010, but Onalaska has been teaching it in its health classes since the early 1990s and it is one of the few school districts across the state that are still certified through the American Red Cross.