Advocates and Bipartisan Elected Officials Call for High-Quality CPR Training for NYPD

council member stephen levin

To ensure that all police officers receive high-quality and ongoing training in life-saving skills, Council Member Stephen Levin introduced Introduction 83, which would require the police department to submit reports concerning employee certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) use to the Council.

Council Member Levin has also introduced Resolution 1181 calling on the state legislature to pass and the Governor to sign Briana’s Law (A. 4364-A/S.6717), a bill that would require that police officers are re-trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation every two years and demonstrate satisfactory completion of such training. Briana’s Law has passed the Assembly for four years, but the Senate has failed to move this bipartisan bill forward.

Council Member Levin introduced the measures following the tragic death of his constituent, 11-year-old Briana Ojeda. On August 27, 2010, Briana suffered an asthma attack while playing in Carroll Park in Brooklyn. Briana’s mother, Carmen Torres, rushed her to the hospital and was intercepted by a police officer who accompanied them to the emergency room.

However, the police officer did not immediately perform potentially life-saving CPR because he did not feel qualified to do so. In the police academy, he had only learned about CPR from a textbook and had never practiced administering CPR. As the officer later remarked, “I didn't feel safe putting my hands on someone without actually knowing what I'm doing.”

council member stephen levin

“How would you feel if an officer told a frantic mother that she would have to wait for EMS in order to start saving her child’s life, while her child is dying in front of her,” said Carmen Torres, Briana’s mother. “This can happen to anyone. This is why I support this legislation. On August 27 of 2010 I lost the greatest love of my life. Briana Amaryllis Ojeda is her name. Briana was an 11-year-old baby girl who happened to run into a police officer who couldn’t do CPR. Losing Briana has been a life sentence of depression, anxiety, and a broken heart. By passing this legislation it would make sure that no other family would have to endure this pain that will never go away.”

“In order to save lives, New York’s finest must receive the highest quality training in life-saving CPR and AED skills,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “These are no-brainer measures that would help to improve the chance of survival for victims of cardiac arrest. The Ojeda family has fought tirelessly to ensure that other families will not experience a similar tragedy and I hope that my colleagues will join me in pushing for these life-saving measures.”

council member stephen levin

"It is imperative that police officers are adequately trained in the administration of CPR,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W Ortiz. “This easy to learn procedure has been proven to save lives in emergency situations and could have helped save the life of Briana Ojeda and others. The fact that the Police Academy had to reassign a CPR instructor after an officer recently testified he didn't feel confident in his CPR abilities proves the point that NYPD CPR training is inadequate."

“Briana's Law is all about saving lives,”said Senator Jack M. Martins, Senate sponsor of the legislation. “Police officers guard our safety and are often the first ones on scene whenever trouble occurs. Ensuring that the basic first aid training they already receive in the police academy is enhanced and periodically reinforced will help give them greater tools to save lives in situations where every second counts.”

council member stephen levin

“When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby,” stated Melinda Murray, member of the American Heart Association Advocacy Committee.  “My son Dominic lost his life far too soon because no one around him knew to start CPR right away. This life-saving skill, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. The American Heart Association strongly supports Briana’s Law and all efforts to improve the training standards for all law enforcement as it should be required that these first responders be prepared to initiate the first steps in the Chain of Survival.”

"The American Red Cross is dedicated to saving more lives from cardiac arrest through raising public awareness and supporting educational programs that train more people in CPR," said Josh Lockwood, CEO of the American Red Cross in Greater New York. "Time is of the essence during cardiac emergencies, so the more people and first responders properly trained and certified in CPR, the better the chances of saving a life."

Since 2010, the Ojeda family has advocated tirelessly to pass this bill. It is time that the state legislature and Governor take steps to ensure that no other family will have to suffer a similar tragedy. In order to save lives, it is crucial that first-responders are qualified to perform CPR and that they are regularly re-trained. More than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home every year in the United States, with almost 90% resulting in death. However, if CPR is performed within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, an individual’s chance of survival can be double or even tripled.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is also supportive of further training for police officers.

Together, Introduction 83 and Resolution 1181 are essential to ensure that police officers are trained to respond appropriately in a cardiac emergency so that they can continue to protect and serve New Yorkers and honor Briana’s memory.