CPRSan Francisco Unified School District will require all students to learn CPR to graduate.

Passed unanimously by the school board in late May, the requirement will begin with the 2015-2016 school year.

Fewer than half of the roughly 326,000 Americans who have a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital each year get CPR from a bystander, and only about 10 percent survive. Bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates from cardiac arrest. However, many people do not get help from bystanders who could provide CPR if they knew how.

“Bystanders without appropriate training in the event of a cardiac arrest would be a missed opportunity to help someone who has a sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital. Usually, a victim’s chances of meaningful recovery are slim,” said Kenneth Fox, M.D., chief of the department of neurology and medical director of the stroke program at Kaiser Permanente of San Francisco.

With CPR training in schools, there is a certainty that people will be trained each year. In the San Francisco school district, the seventh-largest in California, about 4,700 students each year will get training. The district will use a curriculum developed by the American Heart Association and American Red Cross.

“This change to SFUSD’s curriculum will have a huge impact on families and the community at large, and removes the emotional and financial burden that an unexpected, potentially catastrophic emergency can cause. This saves lives, reduces suffering and reduces costs on our health system,” said Fox, an AHA volunteer on San Francisco’s board of directors.

San Francisco’s school district joins 22 states that have passed CPR in Schools requirements, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.