Access to AEDs Act

By Jason Serbus MA, ATC, PES
Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer
Washington Capitals

On March 29th, I was honored to represent PHATS and the NHL at Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to support the Access to AEDs Act.

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla., and Bill Posey, R-Fla., hosted the meeting to highlight the Access to AEDs Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the US House of Representatives. This bill will establish a grant program to provide schools with the funds to purchase and maintain AEDs, strengthen CPR training and develop cardiac emergency response plans.

Several members of Congress, Senate, and loved ones of kids that suffered sudden cardiac arrest spoke in support of this initiative, with the keynote speaker being cardiac arrest survivor, Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 7,000 youth under 18 suffer from sudden cardiac arrests annually in the United States, with student-athletes being more than 3.5 times as likely to experience SCA than non-athletes.

The Access to AEDs Act is a bipartisan bill that directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to elementary and secondary schools partnered with a nonprofit health care organization to develop and implement a comprehensive program to promote defibrillation access.

 These grants can be used to:

•Purchase AEDs and their necessary batteries and maintenance.

•Replace old and outdated CPR and AED equipment, machinery, and educational materials.

•Provide CPR and AED training to students, staff, and related sports volunteers.

•Develop a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan.

•Assist schools’ athletic departments in developing heart screening programs for student athletes.

•Establish a clearinghouse database for the reporting of AED devices already in schools.

•Establish a clearinghouse database to gather information on SCA in the pediatric population for further research.

Currently, only 23 states have AED school requirements, with varying degrees of specificity regarding mandates on whether public schools, private schools, or both must have AEDs on campus and provide the necessary training on their use.

The NHL and PHATS join the NATA, NFL, MLB, NCAA, American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and many other organizations in endorsing the Access to AEDs Act at the introduction of the bill. After the March 29th introduction, the hope is that associations across the country join in supporting this important initiative.

For more information: https://cherfilus-mccormick.house.gov/media/press-releases/reps-cherfilus-mccormick-posey-sen-booker-introduce-legislation-increase

Photos courtesy of Jason Serbus

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