Samboy Bill on track
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2015 - 10:00am

Pampanga Rep. and Rain Or Shine coach Yeng Guiao is making headway in his crusade to mandate students in public and private schools to undergo CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) training at least once before graduation.

Last week, the Committee on Basic Education of the House of Representatives approved Bill No. 5891, authored by Guiao who said he hopes it will become a law before the current Congress adjourns for next year’s election. Guiao mentioned that the bill will now be taken up by the Senate where Sen. Koko Pimentel has promised to push for its approval.

Guiao filed the bill last June 22 and said the issue is about saving lives. His inspiration for the bill was former PBA star Samboy Lim who suffered a cardiac arrest during an exhibition basketball game and was not administered CPR before admission into the emergency section of the Medical City last November. Lim was out of oxygen for about 23 minutes and entered the hospital dead on arrival. He was revived and has miraculously stayed alive although in a state of somewhat suspended animation. The hope is someday, sooner or later, Lim will regain full consciousness and mobility.

Guiao said he found out that nobody in the gym knew how to administer CPR and the only thing anyone could do to save Lim was to rush him to the nearest hospital. Time, however, was of the essence and before Lim could be revived by doctors, his heart had stopped beating. “That prompted me to file this bill,” said Guiao. “CPR training takes only half a day but it must be taught by an accredited and licensed practitioner or paramedic.”

At first, Guiao sought to make CPR training a requirement for high school graduation. But during a recent hearing for the bill, Department of Education assistant secretary Tonisito Umali proposed not to limit the training to high school students. Umali said as a rule, the Department of Education is opposed to the legislation of curriculum but this was an exception. He also suggested that training could be conducted by government or NGOs for free so as to eliminate or at least minimize additional cost for schools.

Lawyer Darlene Berberabe, Lim’s former wife who has taken charge of his treatment, attended the hearing. She said Lim’s family is backing Guiao’s initiative all the way. “She narrated the events surrounding the incident and how Samboy’s brain was without oxygen supply for almost 30 minutes,” said Guiao’s chief of staff Ramon Navarra Jr. “She gave a moving testimony on how Samboy’s family continues to hold on to the hope and conviction that he will recover.”

Rep. Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna) also spoke at the hearing and backed Guiao’s proposal to equip bystanders with the necessary CPR skills because of the unpredictability of cardiac arrest.

Guiao’s bill was endorsed by committee presiding officer Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay of the Alliance of Volunteer Educators, vice chair Rep. Evelina Escudero (1st District, Sorsogon) and Reps. Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna and Anthony del Rosario (1st District, Davao del Norte). They voted unanimously for the bill’s approval and were made co-authors of the proposal.

“I would like to call this the Samboy Lim bill in honor of the PBA superstar who is now in a coma after suffering a heart attack and whose fate became the impetus for the filing of the proposal,” said Guiao.

There were over 20 persons in the gym when Lim was stricken but no one knew how to administer CPR. Doctors said if CPR was done within the three-minute window, Lim’s chances of recovery would’ve been higher. “Studies suggest that without CPR, the survival rate of cardiac arrest is less than one percent but bystander CPR can double or triple the chances of survival,” said Navarra. “Bystander CPR has been linked to a 30 percent lower risk of nursing home admission and brain damage in survivors of cardiac arrest outside hospital as shown in a research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress on Aug. 30, 2015, by Dr. Kristian Kragholm of Denmark.”

Guiao said the concept of CPR training in schools is nothing new. Norway has instituted it since the 1960s. In the US, 27 of 50 states require CPR skills in high schools and make it a requisite for graduation. Canada and the UK are also pushing for CPR education. Malaysia, Singapore and Japan have started CPR training in schools and communities.

“Experts have stated that cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anywhere, whether you’re at a basketball game, at the theater, at home, on the bus or in a plane,” said Navarra. “Since four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home, there’s a good chance a rescuer will be helping his or her own loved one. Giving Filipinos the skills to intervene, rather than remain ignorant passive bystanders until the medical personnel arrives, can literally make the difference between life and death.”

Guiao noted that ultimately, the goal is to make lifesavers out of today’s youth by providing the training to give the confidence of being able to step up when an emergency situation arises.

The Philippine Heart Association (PHA), meanwhile, has come out strongly to support Guiao’s bill. In a meeting with Guiao, the PHA said the current protocols for teaching CPR are now simplified, particularly with hands-only CPR, making it easy to teach even to students as young as nine years old. At the hearing, PHA Council on CPR chair Dr. Francis Lavapie said the Philippines has lagged behind its Asian neighbors in cardiovascular care and noted that enacting the bill will be a big step towards saving countless lives.

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