Proposed bill would require schools to have AEDs at all sporting events | News

24 years ago last week, Lawrence North basketball star John Stewart collapsed and died during a regional basketball game against Bloomington South in Columbus North.

Like most high schools across Indiana at the time, North did not have automated external defibrillators or AEDs at the time. Rescue workers attempted to revive the 7-foot, 275-pound Stewart for about 25 minutes before being brought to him Columbus Regional Hospitalwhere he was pronounced dead, a victim of idiopathic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Soon after, lawmakers began ensuring that all schools were equipped with AEDs. Now they are going one step further and are looking for AEDs to be present at all indoor and outdoor sporting events.

Senate bill 369, whose authors include Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, would require school coaches, marching band leaders and extracurricular activity leaders to ensure that an operational AED is available at all sporting events. The bill would require the devices to be accessible within three minutes, except off-road.

The bill would also require schools to maintain the devices and develop and communicate site-specific emergency plans in the event of cardiac arrest.

The bill sailed through the Indiana Senate last month by a 49-0 vote and is pending in the Indiana House.

Defibrillators “have changed a lot in the last five or six years, maybe 10 years,” said Steve Souder, who was an athletic trainer at Columbus North for 43 years and at Hauser for the past two years. “John Stewart, when he died, they didn’t exist. The only ones they had were paramedics or EMTs.”

AEDs cost about $1,800 each. Many schools have them now.

However, Souder said that if the bill goes into effect, demand for AEDs will likely be greater than current supply and there may be a six-month to a year wait before some schools receive them.

All certified staff and trainers must be trained in the use of AEDs to keep their license active. Of course, all coaches also have to go through the sudden cardiac arrest Federal Association of State University Associations (NFHS).

“The new guys take you through everything,” said Brian Lewis, North’s athletics director. “Anyone off the street can do that. If another adult sees someone struggling, then of course (they can use it).”

Huss agreed. “Once you start the process, you are guided through it,” Huse said. “So the person is quiet and listens. If you attach the pads incorrectly, it will tell you. It will let you know when it’s ready to deliver a load. The way an AED works, anyone can use it to save someone’s life if they follow the instructions.”

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