A move to mandate CPR training for students in Connecticut public schools took a step forward Monday with the approval of the legislature’s Public Health Committee.

Many schools in the state already do offer instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation but, as State Sen. Terry Gerratana, D-New Britain, said during Monday’s committee meeting, the proposed language “requires as opposed to encourages” CPR training in public schools.

When it was aired during public hearing in February, the bill, S.B. 684, was the subject of some passionate testimony. Among those who spoke in favor of the measure was Sen. Paul Formica, R-Bozrah.

“In late 2009 my wife died of a massive heart attack. As I attempted to administer CPR, I realized that I really didn’t know the correct procedure and was responding based on my assumptions,” he said. “Although training in my case most likely would not have saved Donna, I firmly believe that everyone should be trained to perform this life-saving technique. Heart disease is the number one killer of women: moms, sisters, grandmas, aunts. We debate many critically important issues in this building to make lives better for everyone in our state. What else could be more important than saving a life?”

Mary-Ellen Harper, who who serves as Farmington’s director of fire and rescue services, told committee members during public hearing testimony about the time her father had a heart attack at a retirement party for Farmington Fire Chief Tim Vibert. The presence of people there who knew CPR saved her father’s life.

“If there is a ‘right’ place and time to have a cardiac arrest, my father certainly picked it,” she wrote.

Elizabeth Schiller, president of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians, said that CPR “may mean the difference between life and death.”

“The process and technique of basic CPR can be quickly and effectively taught to people of all ages,” she said in February. “By instituting education at the high school level, young adults will become familiar with the process and hopefully will feel comfortable assisting others in a time of need.”

On Monday, the bill passed through the Public Health Committee with no dissent and little comment, except for a few notes of encouragement from Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, R-Glastonbury, who called the measure “very important.”

“I am glad … to be discussing this piece of legislation today,” he said.