Congressman: AEDs in schools can prevent 'heartbreaking incidents'

By EMS1 Staff

WASHINGTON — Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation today in the House that would encourage every state in the Country to require Automated External Defibrillators at all schools to aid students suffering cardiac arrests.

"Encouraging state legislatures to consider laws requiring the placement of AEDs in schools is very important to ensure all students' lives are valued. I have read numerous stories all across the Country where a student is placed in danger or loses their life because of limited awareness of and access to AEDs," Congressman Duncan said.

Tennessee and the 16 other states have led the way in emergency preparedness in academic settings by enacting laws that require the device be placed in all schools.

In 1998, Congressman Duncan sponsored the Aviation Medical Assistance Act that was signed into law requiring all passenger airplanes to have defibrillators in their medical kits. The AMAA of 1998 includes requirements for the flight crew to receive training on using these devices in emergency situations.

"If Congress can agree that travelers in the air should be protected, I hope my colleagues can agree that students at schools in our communities should be as well through access to AEDs," Congressman Duncan said.

By having them in the school, informing all students and staff where they are located, and when to use them, many heartbreaking incidents could be prevented like ones that have occurred in Tennessee’s second district.

In 2009, Tanner Jameson, a 13 year old boy from Maryville, experienced a fatal cardiac arrest while playing basketball at Eagleton Middle School.

His mother, Rhonda Harrill believes that if students and staff at the school were aware of the existence and location of the AED they had in the building that her son would still be here today. At the time, the school had one located in the main office.

The Tennessee State Legislature passed the Tanner Lee Jameson Act, a bill named after Harrill's son, which requires all schools to have AEDs located in their gym.

"It will be up to each state’s legislative body to decide if they want to make similar requirements for their schools. This bill will bring attention to the tragedies that have occurred and the tragedies that can be prevented when students and even teachers suffer heart problems," Congressman Duncan said.

The difference in training, quick decision making and easy access to the life-saving device can be seen at Knoxville's Holston Middle School where a young man who suffered cardiac arrest was saved by P.E. teachers.

Daniel Thompson and Travis Tipton worked together to follow their training that they had just a few weeks earlier. Accessing the AED allowed them to help bring a pulse back to the heart of the student.

"It is my hope that we can start hearing more stories about lives that are saved by access to AEDs instead of hearing ones about lives lost due to lack of access," Congressman Duncan said.

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