It’s been very encouraging to see many states across the country recently implement laws that encourage or require schools to implement AEDs, but we know that these devices are just one step towards saving young lives. Education and health screenings are also essential steps to prevent and prepare for incidents of cardiac arrest. Ohio Congresswoman Connie Pilch has proposed a bill that would take this kind of holistic approach to cardiac arrest readiness.
Ohio already passed HB 434 in 2004 which encourages schools to implement AEDs and provided a $2.5 million fund for such purchases. While the bill does not require AEDs in schools on a state level, it does allow school boards to establish AED requirements for their district. The new bill proposed by Representative Pilch contains a number of provisions relating to schools and student athletes.
First, the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Health would have to collaborate to create educational and training material for statewide use regarding cardiac arrest. These materials would be used to educate high school coaches across the state. Coaches would be required to take an annual course in cardiac arrest awareness. Schools would also an informational meeting at the start of each school year to educate parents and students on the risks of cardiac arrest.
All student athletes would be required to sign a waver signaling their understanding of cardiac arrest risks before they are allowed to play. Any student who shows symptoms for potential cardiac problems such as fainting would be required to receive a medical check before returning to play.
The bill is currently in the House Health and Aging committee, but legislators are optimistic for its eventual passage. We wish Representative Pilch and the people of Ohio all the best with pushing this bill forward. We can envision only positive outcomes for a bill like this which seeks to educate parents, coaches, and students regarding cardiac arrest.