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There's a push to get more AEDs in schools

Illinois New Laws
Posted at 12:09 PM, Jan 06, 2023

There's new attention on ensuring an automatic external defibrillator (AED) is accessible in youth sports.

An AED helped save Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's life when he went into cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of student-athletes.

Research shows that having an AED on-site increases someone's chance of survival from 8% to 80%.

Craig Goldenfarb runs the nonprofit organization Heart in the Game, which donates AEDs to venues that host youth sports.

He said money is just one of the major obstacles preventing organizations and schools from acquiring AEDs.

"Just like a fire extinguisher, you have to maintain it," he said. "You got to keep the batteries live. You got to keep the electrodes live."

He also notes that policies about where and how AEDs are stored have to be in place.

However, help could come from a bill moving through Congress. The Access to AEDs Act would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to give grants to institutions that put AEDs in schools.

Sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes is usually caused by an undiagnosed heart condition, according to the Sports Institute.

Craig said parents should be proactive to protect their children.

"When you go to your pediatrician, ask them if they have an EKG machine because that will catch any abnormality," he said. "It's not part of a normal routine, physical for a child, but it should be."