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Governor signs CPR bill prompted by death of Stafford girl

Gwyneth Griffin (in the photograph) and some items gathered in a cabinet remind her family of their daughter, who passed at age 13 in late July (2012) from complications of a late response of CPR the month before. The family wants all teachers in the county to have CPR certification.


RICHMOND—Legislation to train more teachers and students in CPR, prompted by a Stafford student’s death, has been signed by the governor.

The bills, sponsored by Stafford Republicans Sen. Richard Stuart and Del. Mark Dudenhefer, will become law July 1.

Both bills require students—starting with ninth graders in the 2016–2017 school year—to get training in CPR and use of defibrillators as a requirement for graduation.

They also require teachers to get CPR training—although not necessarily certification—as part of their licensure requirements, and encourage school divisions to acquire a defibrillator for every school.

The bills were prompted by the death last summer of 13-year-old student Gwyneth Griffin. Born with a heart defect, she went into cardiac arrest at A.G. Wright Middle School in Stafford, but got no CPR or first aid until rescue crews arrived nearly 10 minutes later.

Gwyneth’s parents lobbied extensively for the CPR bill in her name, traveling to Richmond to testify at several General Assembly committee meetings as Stuart’s and Dudenhefer’s bills moved through the legislative process.

They told lawmakers that Gwyneth died not from the heart trouble, but from the lack of oxygen to her brain, and that they think public schools should have more CPR-trained staff available to help keep kids safe.

Joel and Jennifer Griffin are also part of a task force in Stafford, along with school and county government officials.

The committee has met several times, including Monday night, to discuss implementing some form of Gwyneth’s Law locally.

Supervisor Ty Schieber said current estimates for implementing the program are close to $300,000. This would include training, AEDs and a coordinator position.

A final proposal would eventually go to both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board.

—Staff reporter Katie Thisdell contributed to this story.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028