Screenshot 2023-05-16 103818

Indiana Senate considers bill requiring defibrillators at all athletic activities

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Senate has moved forward with Senate Bill 306, which would require defibrillators be in close proximity to indoor and outdoor games and practices.

Julie West of LaPorte said she believes the bill could have saved her son’s life.

“Jake, was a fun-loving, kind, just sweet-hearted boy,” West said.

West said she has never forgotten how her son Jake made her laugh.

“I had him for 17 years,” she said. “And that’s what I focus on.”

Jake’s life was cut short in 2013 when he collapsed during football practice. His family later learned he had an undetected heart condition.

At the time, the nearest defibrillator was not on the field – but inside the school, in the coach’s office.

“Minutes count when it comes to saving somebody whose heart is in a life-threatening arrhythmia,” West said.

Senate Bill 306 would also require school staff members to create a response plan to be used when a student goes into cardiac arrest.

“A lot of times they are not where you need them,” said State Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger), the bill’s author. “And people don’t even know they’re there. In one case, when a young man unfortunately passed away, there was an AED not very far away. No one knew it was there.”

Some schools already have these types of policies in place. Hamilton Heights School Corporation has had defibrillators at all athletic events for several years, according to superintendent Derek Arrowood.

“I would much rather have them there and not need them, which is our case, than not have them there and need them,” Arrowood said.

Julie West said she hopes to see all schools do the same.

“We get this bill into law, lives are going to be saved because it’s not if it happens, it’s when it happens,” she said.

The bill received unanimous support in committee. It’s expected to be voted on by the full state Senate early next week.


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