A lack of immediate action spurred Melinda Murray into action.

“My son Dominic was a freshman at Farmingdale State College,” the Elmhurst, New York, resident said. “He was playing basketball when he collapsed with sudden cardiac arrest. There were so many people — mostly students — around, but nobody knew what to do immediately.”

The students called for help, but by the time it arrived and the automated external defibrillator outside the basketball court was put to use, it was too late.

“Dom died on Oct 5, 2009,” Murray said. “Ironically, that was Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month.”

Murray started a foundation to raise awareness about cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED use, and to instruct people in their use. Since it began, DomHeart21 has trained 4,627 people in CPR. Murray’s employer, JetBlue Airways, also embraced the training.

Murray is one of 100 volunteers working with the American Heart Association to help pass a CPR in Schools bill, which would guarantee everyone who graduates from a New York high school learns Hands-Only CPR. If the effort is successful, New York would join 16 other states requiring CPR instruction in high schools.

Murray has gone to the New York Capitol twice previously to meet with lawmakers about the bill. She will make a third visit for that purpose on Tuesday. She also planned to participate in a CPR rally scheduled for that morning.

The rally would include a mass CPR demonstration and the unveiling of three sets of banners, titled: “A Survivors Gallery,” a “We Remember Gallery” and “A Rescuers Gallery.”

The two-dozen 6-foot banners depict people who owe their lives to CPR; people who died due to sudden cardiac arrest; and people who saved a live by using CPR.

Murray will stand next to Dominic’s banner during a scheduled moment of silence.

“CPR is a lifesaving solution,” said Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, a democrat from Long Beach, who introduced the bill in the House.  “As a former police officer, school administrator and lifeguard, I know firsthand that we need bystander CPR to save lives. Many people are alive today because individuals trained in CPR — including youth and adults who received that training in school — gave someone CPR until EMTs arrived. I’m committed to passing the CPR in Schools bill so that we can create a generation in which New Yorkers are prepared to save lives.”

“Schools prepare students with essential life skills, and CPR skills are among the most critical lifesaving skills that make our communities safer, year after year,” said Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, who introduced the bill in the Senate. “It’s time to add New York to the growing list of states that have passed this legislation.”

The bill currently is in committee in both the state Senate and Assembly. A similar bill passed through the state’s Senate two years ago, but did not make it out of the Assembly.

“I have a feeling that this is the year,” Murray said. “There’s a new version of the bill, which addresses concerns raised by the chair of the Assembly Education Committee about the legislature implementing curriculum.

“How can this bill not pass?” she added. “How could something so simple and easy to learn and that could make a big difference, not pass? There should not be a debate on saving a life.”
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