Nevada recently became the 37th state to require CPR training for students. Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the bill in May.

After the law takes effect with the 2017-2018 school year, all of the state’s high school graduates will know how to perform CPR. For public schools alone, that’s more than 22,000 graduates each year.

But many more will be trained annually, said Ben Schmauss, Nevada government relations director for the American Heart Association, which supported the bill. The Clark County School District — which educates almost three-quarters of all Nevada students — will train students in middle school and again in high school, and private schools will also train students, putting the total number trained each year closer to 55,000, he said.

The new law expands a previous 2013 law, which encouraged but did not require CPR instruction. Some schools talked about CPR but didn’t offer students the chance to practice chest compressions on manikins. Now, all schools must provide hands-on CPR training, as well as instruction in the use of an automated external defibrillators, or AED, a device that shocks the heart back to a normal rhythm.

[View text version]

Each year, more than 350,000 Americans experience a cardiac arrest outside a hospital, and nearly 90 percent of them die. CPR, especially if started immediately, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. But only about 46 percent of cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR.

The Clark County School District, which includes Las Vegas, got a head start on the training requirement. It has used manikins to train students since 2013.

“It’s easy to incorporate into the school day, and the students love the interactive nature of the training,” Diane Towery, a health teacher at Fertitta Middle School in Las Vegas, said in a news release.

In addition to Clark County School District’s early adoption of CPR training in schools, Las Vegas has made improvements to its emergency medical response system since 2008, including allowing 911 dispatchers to give CPR instructions over the phone. The city has also trained more citizens in CPR through its Save-a-Life bystander CPR initiative.

Although the new law does not provide state funding for school-based CPR training, Schmauss said smaller school districts have other funding options.

For example, the AHA and Nevada Project Heartbeat have helped schools get CPR equipment, and businesses including Wells Fargo and Ross have funded programs, he said. The Nevada Fire Chiefs Association has also offered support, and additional grant programs are forthcoming, said Schmauss.