Bill would require schools to teach CPR

Lexi Sima, Senator Perry E. Thurston and Shawn Sima after discussing Senate Bill 366.
Photo Submitted by Marie Rattigan.

Imagine getting a phone call that your child is laying lifeless on the floor. You drop everything in a panic and begin to run to her rescue.

The paramedics arrive, and you hear that she is breathing, and her heart is pumping. However, you see her helpless body being placed on a stretcher. Three bystanders, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) saved her life.

On the two-year anniversary of this incident, Lexi Sima was given another opportunity at life. Sima, an 18-year-old Viera High School student, went to work out and the unexpected happened.

Sima was a student athlete who has been training everyday of her life. She attended her local gym after a softball game to work out and while running on the treadmill, her heart abruptly stopped beating. Three bystanders sprang into action and helped to administer CPR and electric shocks using the AED.

"Three people came from the back of the gym and performed CPR and shocked me back with an AED and that is why I am here today,” Sima said.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is inclusive of chest compression and mouth-to-mouth respiration. Through its application, oxygenated blood is enabling to circulate to all the vital organs of a victim, especially, brain and heart. The automated external defibrillator is a portable device used to check the heart rhythm and can send an electrical shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.

According to the American Heart Association, CPR saves more than 92,000 individuals every year; 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die prior to even reaching the hospital. Out of all these numbers, only 6 percent survive cardiac arrest.

If a bystander does not perform CPR, the survival chances of a victim will decrease 7 percent in every single minute of delay.

Simi did not have any prior history of heart problems and no one in her immediate family had any issues at a young age. She went through multiple tests and the doctors do not know what exactly happened.

"My wife's dad passed away in his 60s from a heart issue but, no one in the family has died young that we know of," said Shawn Sima, Lexi's father.

More lives can be saved with proper knowledge and training in performing CPR. Lexi and her father have been traveling throughout Florida to get CPR training for all students beginning in grade six and every two years thereafter.

The partnership of Lexi, her father and Senator Debbie Mayfield, sponsor of Senate Bill 996 has taken effect. This bill would require all public schools to provide instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator. All students will be required to study, and practice psychomotor skills associated with CPR at least once before graduating from high school; The instruction will be part of the physical education curriculum or another required curriculum selected by the school district.

The American Heart Association wants all students and educators to learn CPR, putting more qualified lifesavers in our community.

Two months after Sima’s incident doctors installed an internal defibrillator to shock her heart back into rhythm if need be.

"I have been exercising like normal and I am free to do what I want really,” Sima said.