CPR and AED training for coaches is now required before the next school year, but it comes at a cost
At some Georgia high schools, if a student-athlete needs CPR, there wouldn’t be anyone around certified to help. The American Heart Association estimates less than 10 percent of students in that situation would survive.
“Brain death can start to occur within four to six minutes of the brain being denied oxygen,” said Bibb Schools’ director of risk management, David Gowan.
Gowan is a certified CPR instructor and teaches monthly classes to employees in his district, including every coach.
Other districts, like Bleckley and Monroe County, also require coaches to go through CPR and AED training.
In Houston County, the training is not required by the district, but encouraged by each school. Spokesperson Beth McLaughlin says each high school also has a certified athletic trainer at practices and games.
It’s a much different story at Crawford County High School, where coaches and employees are not required to take any first aid courses and there is no certified athletic trainer.
“We could lose somebody and I just couldn’t live with that,” said soccer and softball coach Holly Johnson. “This summer, we were playing ACE Academy and a girl, after the game, started having seizures.”
Johnson says she felt helpless. She was not trained to help, and she says in a rural area, it can take longer for emergency crews to get there.
“Thank goodness there were some parents there that were nurses and were trained and could help us,” she said. “If not, who knows what would have happened?”
The situation prompted Johnson to enroll in a CPR class and get certified on her own.
“As a head coach responsible for these young ladies,” she said, “it’s a lot of responsibility.”
In April, the Georgia High School Association approved a rule change requiring all coaches to go through CPR and AED training before their season begins next school year.
“It’s about saving lives,” said GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines.
That training, however, does cost money.
“We don’t have a lot of extra money laying around and we have 18 coaches,” said Crawford High School Principal Ed Mashburn. He says it will cost the school roughly $1,500 to $1,800 to certify all of their coaches.
The American Red Cross says it does cost roughly $70 to $80 per person to have one of their instructors come teach a course.
Mashburn says it’s a price worth paying for the safety of their students. He’s already scheduled a training session for May.
After the initial training, coaches will need to get re-certified every two years. If they do not, they will get fined by the GHSA.
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