Dominic Murray’s room in Queens is the same as it was when he left for college in 2009. He never lived in that room again—he died of sudden cardiac arrest on Oct. 7 that year.
On Thursday, Dominic’s mother, Melinda Murray, traveled to Albany, New York, to attend the New York State Education Department Board of Regents meeting, where the final seal of approval was put on the state’s CPR in Schools law.
American Heart Association advocates wore red T-shirts, which stood out against the white pillars of the New York State Department of Education building. Chancellor Meryl Tisch took time to greet the volunteers and pose for photos.
The law will go into effect on Oct. 7.
“October 7 is two days after the sixth anniversary of Dominic’s passing,” Murray said. “We are so grateful that the New York Regents saw how important CPR in Schools is.”
About 326,000 Americans have an emergency medical services-assessed cardiac arrest outside of the hospital each year. Bystander CPR can increase a person’s chances of survival by two- to three-fold, yet fewer than half receive it, according to the AHA.
“CPR training is a formative life skill and we are encouraged that New York and 25 other states share our position. But there is more work to be done. We will continue to promote CPR in Schools and ensure it is part of the national dialogue on education until these laws are passed in all 50 states,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown.
The CPR in Schools law in New York requires that every student must be taught CPR to graduate high school.
It is the 26th state to have such a requirement. The other states are Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
More than 1.5 million students will be trained each year in the 26 states.
In New York, some of the CPR in Schools advocates worked on the New York law for 15 years. Four of the advocates had lost children to sudden cardiac arrest. They were recognized during Thursday’s meeting, as were two teens who are alive due to CPR.
“The ripple effects of this action will be felt across the state, as we make a difference in the lives of our children,” said Annette Adamczak of Akron, New York, who lost her 14-year-old daughter, Emily. “Together, where hands and hearts meet, a life can be saved—one heartbeat at a time.”
The New York CPR in Schools law was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in October 2014, but the legislation has had a convoluted road to enactment. The law called on the state Department of Education to ask the Regents for a recommendation on the instruction of CPR in Schools. The Regents recommended that it be included in the curriculum and sent the measure out for public comment. The final approval was set for Sept. 17.
“Now we can save lives,” said Dan Moran, immediate past chair of the AHA’s New York State Advocacy Committee.