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Mandatory CPR training for barkeepers proposed by lawmaker

By Dennis Romboy | Posted - Sep 18th, 2013 @ 5:44pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A death outside an American Fork bar last year prompted a state lawmaker to propose that the state require barkeepers to undergo CPR training.

Rep. Spencer Cox, R-Fairview, also suggested that taverns have at least two employees on the premises at all times in case an emergency arises. Drinking, he said, can make bars more prone to fights or violence.

"This is just something I wanted to tee up and get some feedback on," Cox told the Business and Labor Interim Committee on Wednesday.

The idea wasn't well received.

"I have a hard time with this because you're regulating something that the state has no business getting involved with," said Rep. Larry Wiley, D-West Valley City.

Rep. Dana Layton, R-Orem, said restaurants also serve alcohol, and she questioned whether servers and others would have to be CPR trained. While having at least two employees is good practice, it should be left to tavern to decide, Layton said.

Cox said he raised the issue at the request of a constituent whose brother-in-law died after being punched outside the Le Sabre bar in American Fork in January 2012.

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Trenton Hall had been thrown out of the bar for being drunk and causing problems. Apparently irritated at Hall's behavior, Eon Clayton McNeill, 24, of American Fork, followed him to the parking lot and punched him in the head. Hall's head hit the pavement, and he died a week later.

Cox said he understands Hall didn't receive immediate help from anyone at the bar.

"It could have happened anywhere," Wiley said. "We're targeting one particular trade."

Jim Olsen, president of the Utah Beer Wholesalers Association, said taverns are slowly going out of business and that there are fewer than two dozen in the state. Most are owned by single proprietors who couldn't testify at the committee meeting because they're working, he said.

After the meeting, Cox said he would likely pursue requiring CPR training for tavern workers but not minimum staffing requirements.

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