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Williston boy pushes for CPR law - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Williston boy pushes for CPR law

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

It's not your typical eighth-grade middle school project.

Tommy Watson set out last year to teach 100 people basic CPR. With his latest trainees, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Sen. John Campbell, Watson reached his goal.

The drive to save lives started last year. Watson was at a school soccer game in the fall and witnessed an elderly man collapse and die from a heart attack.

"He was just laying there on the ground, so I was a little nervous. But then I saw a man starting to do CPR on him, something like, oh, looks like he's having a heart attack. And then after that whole incident happened, I noticed that the man was the only one there who knew it out of 100 adults," Watson explained.

Since its start, Watson's CPR project has taken on a life of its own. From teaching classmates and church groups to lobbying lawmakers. With help from the American Heart Association, Watson has pushed a bill that would require all Vermont high schools to teach mandatory basic CPR as a condition of graduation.

According to the American Heart Association, each year, about 300,000 people in the U.S. suffer a cardiac arrest. Most don't make it. But the chances of surviving are tripled if a bystander immediately begins CPR.

"Hands-Only CPR is just the chest compressions. People can still do rescue breaths, but with this form of CPR there's enough oxygen in an adult's blood to keep moving around with the compressions and keep the heart beating," said Tina Zouk of the American Heart Association.

With his initial goal complete, Watson says he is moving on to even greater challenges.

"I want to continue this on into a career and like at CVU we do a grad challenge, so I want to continue that on, maybe even take it to the national level," he said.

One student's CPR crusade to provide help, inspired by a life-changing experience.

The Vt. Senate is set to vote Thursday on the CPR in Schools legislation.

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