Senate Bill 369 would require all schools to have AEDs at every athletic activity, have a plan in place on how to use them and people there who know how.
INDIANAPOLIS — Every morning when Julie West wakes up, she has one thought.
“What would Jake want me to do?” West said.
Jake was West’s 17-year-old son, who died from sudden cardiac arrest during football practice in 2013.
For West, the answer to her daily question has brought her to the Indiana Statehouse to support a bill that would require automatic external defibrillators at all school sporting events and activities.
“That’s what it comes down to, a life will be saved when this bill becomes law,” she said.
“Minutes count. Seconds count. That AED needs to be in three minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest to have the best success,” West said.
In her son’s case, the AED was in the coach’s office, not close enough to be used in time on Jake.
“I lost my son that day because they weren’t prepared. I don’t judge. I don’t blame, but now we know better and so we need to do better,” West said.
That was the message she and other moms had for the Senate Committee on Family and Children Services as they testified in support of Senate Bill 369.
The proposed law would require all schools to have AEDs at every athletic activity, have a plan in place on how to use them and people there who know how. The bill also calls for schools to regularly check their AEDs to make sure they’re working correctly.
“Indiana schools do not mandate that we have AEDs in our schools,” said mom Teresa Mago, who also lost her son Zac to sudden cardiac arrest.
An AED would not have saved him. He died in his sleep. Still, Mago also came to the Statehouse to advocate for required AEDs in schools and at school activities, in the hopes of saving other kids and families from a pain Mago knows all too well.
“We have to do a little more than just have them. We need to have our plan in place,” said Mago.
“Our AEDs were locked up. Some of them were not functioning. They had been recalled years earlier,” said teacher Tonya Aerts about the northern Indiana high school where she works.
Aerts changed that after student Marc Mayfield collapsed and died during an afterschool basketball game.
“We have a plan in what to do. We practice it. We have AEDs available and accessible. Students and staff are knowledgeable about it. It’s part of our culture,” explained Aerts.
Several central Indiana school districts told 13News they have AEDs in all of their school buildings and check them regularly, with staff trained to use them through CPR training that’s required.
Those schools include Lawrence Township, Washington Township, Perry Township, Wayne Township, Hamilton Southeastern Schools and Beech Grove Schools.
These mothers say that’s a start and think SB 369 can build on that.
“Hopefully, they see the importance because our children should not die at school,” said Julie West.
SB 369 was voted out of the committee. That means it goes to the full Senate for consideration. If it passes there, the next stop would be the House where West said she’s ready to testify again if called.