Virginia high school students set to receive mandatory CPR training under new law

Students at Wakefield High School in Arlington will soon learn a lesson that could help save a life.

On Wednesday, the students received CPR training--a technique that all Virginia high school students will be required to learn before graduation. The students at Wakefield are getting a jump start on CPR education, which includes a 20-minute hands-on lesson with manikins.

Back in 2004, Laiba Ashraf's father suffered a heart attack.

“We didn't know what to do, so we called the police,” said Ashraf, a student at Wakefield.

While they were able to get her father medical attention right away, emergency responders say there was a fine line between life and death.

“If nothing is being done before we get there, which we've seen so many times, unfortunately we don't have much to work with,” said Capt. Bo Bennett with the Arlington County Fire Department.

The big push for students and faculty to learn life-saving techniques comes after the loss of 12-year-old Gwyneth Griffin of Stafford County.

“Last year, Gwyneth's law passed with the help of the Griffin family. Gwyneth was their middle school-aged daughter who passed away in school in Stafford County due to cardiac arrest,” said Traverso.

No one knew how to revive Griffin, but two years from now, every high school student in Virginia will have to train with automatic external defibrillators, emergency first aid, and in CPR before receiving a diploma.

“For every minute a victim is in cardiac arrest and they're not receiving bystander CPR, their chance of survival decreases by 7-10 percent,” said Steve Traverso with the American Heart Association.

A similar bill passed in Maryland last week, joining 14 other states with CPR requirements in place for students.