Cincinnati universities are developing new ways to train students in CPR, but questions over liability and effectiveness remain.

The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University are both making strides to promote CPR training, but are taking different routes to achieve the same goal. The key issue revolves around the certification title and the liability concerns raised when giving the responsibilities of a first responder to a student.

The leading cause of death in the U.S. is cardiac arrest, which kills victims within a few minutes. Only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims receive CPR and the chance of survival is only eight percent if the cardiac arrest occurs outside of a hospital, according to the American Heart Association.

Hands-only CPR was introduced by the American Heart Association in 2008 and has proven to be as effective as traditional mouth-to-mouth. In both cases, CPR boosts the chance of survival 90 percent, according to the American Heart Association.  

Xavier creates fast, hands-only CPR training

Xavier implemented its CPR training program, Xavier has a Heart, in 2012 and successfully trained every incoming freshman in CPR who attended its August orientation.

For under $35, the program purchased a training video and mannequin. It took the trainers 20 minutes to learn both CPR and proper automatic external defibrillator use. Those trainers then taught hands-only CPR to groups of 20 students in five-minute intervals.

Edmond Hooker, director of Xavier has a Heart, said the program was well received by the dean and plans to train every person at Xavier.

“You can’t kill someone twice,” Hooker said. “A few bruises and a broken rib are nothing compared to being dead.”

UC bill would require certification, liability remains uncertain

UC student government approached the issue from a different angle through legislation that would require RA certification and the purchase of two AEDs for residence halls every year. However, the bill was delayed due to liability concerns.

The key difference between Xavier’s program and the UC bill is certification. While Xavier trains participants, they do not go through a certification program and are not liable for possible complications.

Christo Lassiter, UC law professor, explained in an April interview that adding the certification status increases the university’s liability because UC would be making the RA a first responder. The university could face legal repercussions if there was a mistake while attempting to resuscitate a student.

Medical campus promotes community training effort

UC is working to expand a CPR training program similar to Xavier, which would train students without requiring certification.

While there is not yet a training program on UC’s main campus, Jason McMullan, assistant professor at UC’s College of Medicine, directs Take10 Cincinnati — a community initiative sponsored by UC Health to promote hands-only CPR.

“In a brief 10-minute session, we discuss the basic actions to take when an adult or older-child collapses. Participants get practice in performing compressions and we provide general awareness of AEDs,” McMullan said.

Take10 Cincinnati targets the general public and is meant to expose as many people as possible to hands-only CPR, McMullan said. The two-tiered program trains people at public events as well as instructs future trainers. Anyone can attend a one-hour training session and then borrow a Take10 kit to train others.

Although the program is relatively new, it’s already making an impact. Take10 volunteers trained 172 people in two days at the Western and Southern ATP Tennis Tournament.

“We target … the opportunity gap to expose as many people as possible to compression-only CPR so that, if the need arises, there is less of a barrier to act and provide bystander help until the professionals arrive,” McMullan said.

McMullan is also interested in expanding the program by partnering with main campus.

McMullan and Hooker stress performing CPR on a cardiac arrest victim cannot cause any additional harm.

The Ohio revised code protects those who do act by ensuring that no person is held liable for civil damages while administering care at the scene of an emergency.

While SG is making progress to surpass the bill’s liability concerns, Take10 has potential to be successful on main campus as well. The combination of RA certification and general public training would be a positive step in terms of student safety.