House passes bill to help fund and train for AEDs in schools

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The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the “Josh Miller HEARTS Act,” (H.R. 1380), legislation that establishes a federal grant program to help fund the placement of automated electronic defibrillators (AEDs) at elementary and secondary schools across the country.

While also requiring school personnel to receive training in the operation of AEDs, the bil is designed tol increase public awareness of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and the importance of AEDs in schools.

“The Heart Rhythm Society [HRS] appreciates Representative Betty Sutton’s [D-Ohio] successful efforts to promote a much needed national program for AED distribution and use,” said Richard L. Page, MD, president of the HRS.

The bill requires local educational agencies to provide matching funds equal to at least 25 percent of the grant, but waives such requirement for local educational agencies that serve a student population at least 20 percent of which is impoverished.

The legislation also requires local educational grant applicants to demonstrate that the AEDs are integrated into the schools' emergency response procedures and that emergency services personnel are notified of their locations.

Grant priority is given to schools that lack an AED; typically have a significant number of students, staff and visitors present during the day; generally have a longer wait for emergency medical services than other public facilities in the community, and have not received funds under the Rural Access to Emergency Devices Act.

Josh Miller was 15 years old in 2000 when he collapsed after coming to the sideline during the last high school football game of the season. He lived in Sutton's district in Ohio. Someone started CPR but the ambulance at the game did not have an AED. The EMTs were called, but it was too late; he never regained consciousness.

The autopsy showed that Miller died of a rare congenital heart defect called arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, or ARVD. Unfortunately, the first sign that a young person has ARVD is often the last.

"The only way to survive sudden cardiac arrest [SCA] is by receiving immediate emergency medical assistance through the use of CPR and an electrical shock administered by an AED,” said Chris Chiames, executive director of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association. “Because SCA can strike people of all ages, including children and teens, this bill not only makes educational facilities safer for students, but also for teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and visitors to school campuses."