Indiana senate bill would require AEDs, cardiac emergency plans at athletic events

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 5:24 PM EST
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INDIANA (WNDU) - Talk on heart safety has reemerged after the on-field collapse of Damar Hamlin during a Monday Night Football game in early January.

But Indiana State Senator Linda Rogers (R-Granger) and other lawmakers are reintroducing legislation that aims to save millions of lives of student-athletes who might go into sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). A 2022 version of the bill unanimously passed the state senate but could not be heard last session in the House as members ran out of time.

On Monday, Senate Bill 369 cleared the Family and Children Services Committee after several speakers, including one of the bill authors, Rogers, explained why the proposal is needed.

She recalled how a newspaper article about three young men who died from SCA sparked a conversation with Rogers’ daughter.

“And she said, ‘Mom, with all the legislation you work on as a senator, legislation that saves lives should be your number one priority,’” told Rogers. “And I couldn’t agree more.”

In part, S.B. 369 would require an AED on the premises where an athletic activity occurs, and it must be accessible within three minutes in addition to being present for the entire athletic athletic event.

The legislation would also require each school corporation, charter school, and state accredited nonpublic school to make sure the AED is properly maintained but also to develop a venue-specific plan for handling sudden cardiac arrest emergencies and to have that plan posted in a visible place where the athletic event is happening.

“A dollar amount cannot be placed on life” : Mothers who lost sons to SCA testify

Julie West spoke Monday morning in support of Rogers’ bill, having lost her teenage son, Jake, who died in 2013 from an undetected heart condition on the football practice field.

“So many AEDs are placed but with no direction on the proper location, the known location, and who is responsible for maintaining them,” said West.

Joining West was Teresa Mago whose athletic teen son, Zac, died in 2018 from an enlarged heart in his sleep.

“A dollar amount cannot be placed on life,” started Mago. “The only cure for Sudden Cardiac Arrest is prevention. When prevention isn’t possible, we must be prepared. Our children deserve to be safe at school - not just their own school but every school they may enter.”

New Prairie High School teacher Tonya Aerts has led the charge in her district to ensure their schools have a robust cardiac arrest response plan, which includes conducting heart safety drills at least twice a year.

Aerts was moved to take action after the 2017 death of New Prairie senior Mark Mayfield, who passed away from Sudden Cardiac Arrest at an intramural basketball game held on school grounds.

“Bill 369 is the first step in creating a school environment that would have given Mark a chance to survive, and every Hoosier student deserves to learn and play in an environment that’s prepared,” said Aerts.

S.B. 369 will be heard on second reading later this week, when other senators can suggest amendments.

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