A new state Senate bill requiring all public schools to be equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED) and to have at least one person in the school that is trained in AED use will be well worth approval so long as Lansing comes up with money to purchase the devices and train school personnel.
State Sen. Mike Kowall (R-Commerce, Highland, Milford, Walled Lake, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, White Lake, Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield) is teaming up with colleagues to sponsor a bill mandating that each public school have a defibrillator accessible to staff, students, volunteers and guests.
Senate Bill (SB) 801, which features Kowall as a co-sponsor, gives schools a year to comply with its requirements, which also include that when students are present, there be at least one person at the school who is satisfactorily trained in basic first aid, basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of an AED as determined by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or another equivalent organization.
The bill was motivated, in part, by the case of a west Michigan prep basketball player who collapsed and died from complications of an enlarged heart earlier this year during the state playoffs. There was no defibrillator available at the site when the player collapsed.
There’s no question that AEDs save lives, as can the appropriate administration of first aid and CPR. For that reason, we agree that every public school should be equipped with an AED and have trained personnel.
Staff in Jones’ Lansing office stated most public schools already have an AED, a statement that implies not all have one. In addition, it’s unknown how many public schools have personnel trained in first aid, CPR and AED use. Such training through the American Heart Association costs up to $135 per person; and AEDs can run from $1,200 to $2,500 apiece.
The ability to save lives is well worth the expenditures necessary to ensure all schools have an AED and trained staff. But SB 801′s requirements will be costly, perhaps more so than the schools can easily accommodate given the recent reductions in state funding for schools.
If lawmakers consider saving lives a high priority — and we’re betting they do — they need to ascertain how many public schools need an AED and how much it will cost to train multiple people at each school in basic first aid, CPR and AED use before they enact the bill. Once that’s accomplished, lawmakers may have to make budget cuts elsewhere to come up with the money to pay for these new, but potentially life-saving requirements.