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Defibrillators required at all Indiana school athletic events.

Defibrillators required at all Indiana school athletic events.

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.