Michigan lawmakers could vote to require hands-only CPR training in school

Supporters say legislation will save lives

By Sarah Mayberry, M.P.H. - Producer

DETROIT - The Michigan House of Representatives could vote soon on Senate Bill 647, legislation that would require all students in Michigan to be trained in hands-only CPR before graduating from high school. Similar legislation has already been passed in 34 states.

The American Heart Association says passing this bill would create 100,000 potential lifesavers in Michigan each year.

Brett Kuhn and Christopher Slack are a shining example of the impact just one of those lifesavers could have.

Kuhn and Slack, both 24, have been best friends since the third grade. Growing up together in Novi, Michigan, no one could ever have imagined one of them would someday help save the other's life.

It happened during their freshman year of college. Slack was visiting Kuhn for the annual Central versus Western football game.

They were at a friend's apartment when Kuhn suddenly collapsed.

"We immediately told someone to call 911," Slack said. "He was slowly kind of falling in, this sounds really weird, but falling into death, just fading. Before we knew it, he stopped breathing, and that's when we had to start administering CPR."

Slack and their friend Tyler had learned CPR in high school. The training kicked in.

The police arrived first. One officer told the boys they could stop.

"We were like, 'No, we're not stopping. He's still here,'" Slack said.

EMS arrived in twelve minutes. Paramedics used an AED to restart Kuhn's heart.

"They called it 'cardiac arrest.' Doctors did numerous tests and really never came to anything, no conclusion," Kuhn said.

According to experts, for every minute that CPR is delayed, the odds of survival drop ten percent.

"If we didn't do it exactly when we did and if we didn't keep up with it, then he wouldn't be sitting here," Slack said.

Kuhn now has an implanted defibrillator in his chest, just in case. He's grateful for his second chance.

"It just takes that one person. I'm thankful," Kuhn said.

"I don't even want to think about not having him here," Slack said.

Kuhn was running track at Central Michigan University when the incident happened.  He had no history of heart trouble.

"You never know who's going to go down. If you're going to be the one down, or if it's going to be a random person in the street, or your best friend," Slack said.

Sign up for ClickOnDetroit Email Newsletters (click here) for more stories like this.

"Chris and Brett’s story is testament to the value of students learning CPR," said Sarah Poole, government relations director for the American Heart Association in Michigan. "Four out of five cardiac arrests happen in the home, so, when CPR is required, it is most likely to be a loved one - family, or friend - who needs the help.  Young people have shown time and again that they are willing to act in an emergency and save a life - just like Chris did."

Slack and Kuhn hope the legislation will pass to ensure that all students in Michigan learn hands-only CPR. It was approved by the Michigan Senate in May. Supporters are pushing for the House to vote this month, before members break for the November election.

"Put it in the curriculum. It saves lives," Kuhn said.

"There are those random events that happen, and you just want to be prepared," Slack said.

To show your support for Senate Bill 647, click here.

You can also share your support on social media using #CPRMI.

Copyright 2016 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.