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Defibrillators required at all Indiana school athletic events under Senate legislation

A screenshot of a livestream of a Senate committee hearing. Julie West is sitting at a table at the front of the committee room, testifying on legislation. Members of the public sit in chairs behind her. West is a White woman with dark hair.
Screenshot of iga.in.gov
Julie West testifies in a Senate committee hearing on legislation to require automated external defibrillators at every school athletic event. West lost her son Jake to sudden cardiac arrest in 2013.

Every Indiana school would be required to have an automated external defibrillator, or AED, at every athletic event under a bill that cleared a Senate committee Monday.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death for high school athletes. Julie West’s son Jake fell victim a decade ago. Julie said her son died on the football field when an AED that could have saved his life was back in the coach’s office.

“Minutes count when someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest and kids are dying because we’re not prepared,” West said.

The legislation, SB 369, would require that coaches, marching band and activity leaders ensure that there’s a defibrillator accessible within three minutes of any athletic activity. And it requires them to have an emergency action plan for what to do if an AED is needed.

Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Paul Neidig supported the bill, but noted it will raise some questions the legislature should answer.

For instance, he pointed out that it will come with a cost to schools to purchase AEDs. He also noted that many schools allow community athletic events in their facilities.

"What's going to be the standard if a Little League in the community uses the facility on a Sunday?" Neidig said.

A similar bill passed the Senate last year but failed to advance in the House.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.