Lawmakers push for schools to have AEDs

LANSING — Life-saving legislation requiring schools to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) was introduced Thursday in the Michigan Senate, said sponsors Sen. Rick Jones and Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker.

“Again and again, we keep reading about the tragic and untimely deaths of students in our schools,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Plain and simple, this measure will help save lives. Every school should have one of these life-saving machines. I’m proud to sponsor this important measure.”

If signed into law, Senate Bill 801 would specify that all public schools have an AED device present and accessible to students and staff. Schuitmaker has also sponsored Senate Resolution 74, which urges school districts throughout Michigan to install an AED at all athletic and community-sponsored events.

Both SB 801 and SR 74 were prompted by the tragic events last year in Fennville when star basketball player Wes Leonard suffered cardiac arrest and died after scoring the winning basket at a state tournament playoff game.

“AEDs are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. If having an AED in every public school across the state saves only one life, then it is well worth it,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “I look forward to seeing this bill become state law and help prevent future tragedies.”

Sudden cardiac arrest affects even the most physically fit and active among the population and can happen at any time; its symptoms often go unannounced until it’s too late. Having AED devices on location can help save lives, as immediate medical intervention is often a matter of life and death.

The lawmakers are also working with the Michigan Association of School Administrators to help set up AED training in schools.