American Heart Association's CPR in Schools Initiative Aims to Reduce Disparities in CPR


Ross Dress for Less ® providing free CPR training resources to schools in need.

(DALLAS, Dec. 12, 2014) — Kids learning bystander CPR may be the answer to reducing death from the 420,000 cardiac arrests that occur outside of a hospital each year. Sadly, most of those victims die, often because bystanders don’t know how to start CPR, or are afraid they’ll do something wrong. Further complicating the issue are the disparities among Latinos and African-Americans, who are 30 percent less likely to have bystander CPR performed on them in an emergency, according to a study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. People who live in lower-income, African-American neighborhoods are 50 percent less likely to have CPR performed. The AHA is training students, teachers and parents in CPR via its CPR in Schools initiative to help eliminate these inequities, exposing lifesaving skills to millions at a young age. Ross Dress for Less (“Ross”) is supporting AHA’s efforts to help save more lives in all communities by providing free CPR training resources to public schools in lower-income areas.

A September 2013 study in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes is the first of its kind to examine underserved, high-risk neighborhoods to learn about CPR barriers and what should be done to increase bystander CPR. In focus groups, researchers learned that residents of these high-risk neighborhoods believe that teaching children about lifesaving CPR and then having them share this knowledge with their families and friends is a key way to spreading the message. While a small study, this initial research found that the biggest challenges for minorities in urban communities to learn and perform CPR are cost, fear and lack of information. These same issues are evident in other underserved, high-risk neighborhoods across the country. For that specific reason, the Ross stores program will support schools in underserved communities.

“Our continued research shows disparities exist in learning and performing CPR, and we are ready to move beyond documenting gaps to finding solutions to fix them,” said Dianne Atkins, professor of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa. “School is a great equalizer, which is why CPR in schools is an integral part of the solution and will help increase bystander CPR across all communities and save more lives,” said Atkins.

Ross and its customers have raised funds to train thousands of 7th and 8th grade students in lifesaving CPR across the U.S through its Help a Hero program supporting CPR in Schools. The American Heart Association’s goal is to pair each Ross Dress for Less store with a nearby public school that has at least 50 percent of their students receiving free or reduced lunch. More than 1,100 schools in the U.S. will receive a CPR in Schools Training Kit™, teaching materials to implement the program, and a school-based report card at the end of the year that shows how many students they have trained. Teachers also have access to AHA resources, volunteer mentors and CPR in Schools staff throughout the program.

“Ross is proud to support the American Heart Association’s CPR in Schools efforts by providing resources to help schools implement training programs,” said Gary Cribb, Executive Vice President of Store and Loss Prevention. “In partnership with our customers and the AHA, Ross has invested in our communities to create a generation of trained and empowered students who can save lives through CPR.”

About CPR in Schools initiative

Since 2011, the American Heart Association has been working with communities and other organizations to prepare more students, their teachers and families to save lives with CPR in Schools. Lawmakers in 20 states are requiring all students be trained in psychomotor skill-based CPR before graduating from high school. That means more than one million students will be trained in CPR each year, resulting in millions of qualified lifesavers in our communities. Teaching students in school how to administer CPR will help increase the chance that a victim of cardiac arrest has the help they need until paramedics arrive. To learn more about CPR in Schools legislation, go to

To learn more about the American Heart Association’s CPR in Schools initiatives, call 1-877-AHA4CPR or visit


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from cardiovascular disease and stroke — America’s leading killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or join us, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or any of our offices around the country, or visit

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