Two weeks ago marked a very important date for my family. My daughter, Emily Rose, would have been 17. A week before school ended in June 2009, Emily's life was cut short due to sudden cardiac arrest while she was playing soccer.
While we can't bring Emily back, my family and I are doing everything we can to ensure no family loses a loved one too early. That means teaching everyone to learn CPR and how to use an AED.
We are volunteering with the American Heart Association to advocate for passage of state legislation to make sure New York students learn CPR and how to use an AED before graduation.
While it may seem like this is common sense, CPR instruction is missing from the high school curriculum in New York.
CPR, if started promptly after a victim collapses, can double, if not triple, the chances of survival. On the other hand, when bystanders do nothing but wait for the EMTs and paramedics to arrive, the chances of survival drop 10 percent per minute.
Hands-only CPR takes only 30 minutes to learn, and the cost is minimal to a school district. This can be incorporated in the health class or in the phys ed class. It is a tool as important as teaching children how to dial ''911.'' If this is done every year during the high school grades, it would become second nature for our students; our children. The fear factor of "what do I do?" will disappear and they will be able to handle an emergency situation and offer help to someone in need.
Imagine how many lives we could save if all NYS students learned CPR before graduation. The life they save may be someone you know, maybe your own child.
I hope our state legislators will make this a priority and I encourage everyone to contact your state representatives today and ask them to support and pass the CPR in schools bill this year. You can visit SupportCPRinSchools.org to learn more.
Thank you for your time and your support of a bill so very close to my family's hearts. Three numbers save lives (911), now let's teach that three letters can make a difference too -CPR.
(Annette Adamczak lives in Akron, N.Y.)