INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana state senator is planning to reintroduce a bill next session that would create new requirements for defibrillators at athletic activities.
The bill would require defibrillators in close proximity to all athletic games and practices and mandate staff create a response plan.
It unanimously passed the state Senate last year, but a House committee ran out of time to give the bill a hearing.
State Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger), the bill’s author, said she feels optimistic it will get over the finish line next year.
“People have to know where it is and how to handle it,” Rogers said. “So it’s just like in a first aid training course, you have to have a plan of action.”
Several parents have advocated for the bill, including Julie West, who lost her 17-year-old son Jake after he collapsed during football practice in 2013.
“Here my son is an active, healthy, vibrant 17-year-old boy,” she said. “He goes off to school one day and he doesn’t come home.”
West later learned Jake’s death was caused by an undetected heart condition. At the time, the closest defibrillator was inside the school instead of out on the field.
“We get AEDs, but nobody knows where they are or what to do with them or how to use them,” said West, who founded the Play for Jake Foundation in her son’s honor, offering free heart screenings to children.
Some teachers also want to see changes made.
Tonya Aerts, a biomedical teacher, has been working with students at New Prairie High School to get everyone trained.
“We have so much emphasis on fire drills and tornado drills and active shooter [drills] – I just did an active shooter drill recently at my work – and sudden cardiac arrest and AEDs should be right in there with it,” Aerts said.
“It’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s when it’s going to happen,” West said. “So we just need to be better prepared.”
West encourages everyone to learn how to use defibrillator. You can find more information from the American Red Cross here.