BOSTON – In one of the final legislative actions of the 189th legislative session, both the Massachusetts Senate and House enacted a bill on Tuesday night which calls for schools to install automated external defibrillators (AEDs).
For years, advocates from across the Commonwealth have pushed for this common-sense requirement to make the life-saving devices accessible in schools, especially during sporting events.
“As the mother of a child with a life-threatening congenital heart defect, I know first-hand how incredibly important it is for our schools to be equipped to handle cardiac emergencies,” said Haverhill resident, Diane Pickles. “I am incredibly grateful to the American Heart Association for its tireless advocacy to get this legislation passed and to Senator O’Connor Ives for her staunch support of this life-saving bill. I look forward to seeing Governor Baker sign it into law and making sure that all of our schools are safer for our children.”
“The is an important, life-saving measure that will strengthen safety for our children while they are in school, and I thank Diane Pickles and all the local advocates who shared their personal stories and experiences with me throughout the bills progress in the legislature,” said State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives.
“I am proud of our amazing advocates who have worked tirelessly over the years to help make this happen. We have been fortunate to have legislative champions helping us get this passed. We would like to thank Senator O’Connor Ives for her dedication to the issue. We believe that the passing of this bill will ensure that students and athletes across Massachusetts have additional on-site safety equipment that could one day save their life,” said Allyson Perron, Senior Government Relations Director of the American Heart/American Stroke Association.
Senate Bill 2449, “An Act Requiring Automated External Defibrillators in Schools,” requires each school facility in Massachusetts to provide and maintain at least one AED on site in addition to having on staff a person who is a certified AED provider. A person certified in AED use must also be present and readily available at any school-sponsored athletic event. Importantly, these providers would not be held liable for any injury or death which occurs during a good faith attempt to render emergency care.
Notably, if a school system is unable to comply with these safety standards, the superintendent may request a hardship waiver from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the department must also make available to public schools a list of grants and other funding sources that a public school may access to facilitate the purchase of AEDs.
Governor Baker must sign the bill within 10 days in order to become law. If he does, the law will take effect on July 1, 2018.