PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

This week is CPR Awareness Week and organizations like the American Heart Association and the Red Cross are encouraging people to get certified.

Ryan Collins almost died three years ago when he suffered cardiac arrest.

“Luckily, there were two people in the building who knew CPR and they did CPR for 10 minutes. That’s what really saved me. They did CPR for 10 minutes before EMTs arrived,” Collins said.

He is now living proof that bystander CPR saves lives.

KDKA-TV’s Susan Koeppen: If those two people hadn’t stepped in and given you CPR, do you think you would be here today?

Collins: Good chance I would not be. No.

Experts say bystander CPR can more than double a person’s chances of survival. However, there’s a catch in Pennsylvania.

It’s the only state in the nation where Good Samaritans who give CPR can be sued.

“If you are a bystander and you don’t have your up to date CPR certification, you are at risk,” Michelle Bianco with the American Heart Association said. “For every other state to have some sort of form of protection for bystanders, we don’t think it makes sense for Pennsylvania to not have that same capability.”

Senate Bill 351 hopes to change that. The bill offers immunity to bystanders who render aid and it would also protect businesses from liability if they have an AED on their premises.

State Sen. Tim Solobay is one of the sponsors of the bill.

“It gives people the comfort that if they are attempting to help and if it doesn’t work out right, they won’t be sued because they didn’t save that individual,” Solobay said.

Collins said he thinks about the people who saved his life every day.

“If you have an idea of what you are doing, try to help, because doing nothing is worse than not trying. You might be saving a person’s life,” Collins said.

Senate Bill 351 passed unanimously in the Senate just the other day and is now in the hands of the house.

For more information on classes to get your CPR certification, visit KDKA.com/CPR


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