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N4T Investigators: CPR Alert

TUCSON – “It is surprising to me.”

Joseph Chambers is a cardiologist and Chief of Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Even he was surprised when the News 4 Tucson Investigators told him that Arizona does not require public school teachers to be certified in Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation.

In other words, if a school nurse is not nearby during a cardiac event, the closest teachers may not how to perform CPR.

Dr. Chambers said, “In 2019, there’s just no reason to not know CPR.”

The Centers for Disease Control says every 40 seconds someone in the US has a heart attack. More than 360,000 sudden cardiac deaths occur in the US every year.

“Most of those sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital,” Dr. Chambers said. “And so their likelihood of survival drops off exponentially just by not having some who could perform CPR.”

Arizona’s lawmakers aren’t the only ones who haven’t taken action. Only 18 states require public school teachers to be certified in CPR.

“As a long time legislature, we can’t even get, you know, the funding to fully fund education.

State Senator Sally Ann Gonzales (D-Tucson) is on the Senate Education Committee and a former teacher. She said, “We can’t even get the funding to fully fund education.

Gonzales said Arizona lawmakers can’t even pay teachers enough, but money shouldn’t be an issue in what’s potentially a matter of life and death.

“I think it’s important,” Gonzales said. “Especially I think it’s important for special needs students that those teachers get certified.”

The News 4 Tucson Investigators said to Gonzales, “You have the power to do something about this. Will you?” “I will try to do something,” she said. Especially for special needs teachers because I think there’s a greater need there. So yes, I certainly will try to do something about that.”

Arizona does require public school coaches to be certified in CPR. And a law requiring high school juniors and seniors to receive CPR training took effect July 1. They need to be trained before they can graduate.

If you have a story you’d like us to investigate, email us at or call our tip line at 520-955-4444

Matthew Schwartz

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