Sen. Ruggerio bill requires AEDs in all middle, high schools
PROVIDENCE, RI--About 325,000 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrest every year and about 95 percent of them die before reaching a hospital. Although no official statistics have been gathered about sudden cardiac arrest in children, it is estimated that several hundred children under the age of 21 succumb each year. 
If defibrillation is performed within five to seven minutes of an incident, chances of survival increase by nearly 50 percent.
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which Rhode Island law requires in fitness/health clubs and which are present in many state and municipal buildings and police and fire stations, “are extremely accurate, and inexpensive, items that can be operated by the average person and that can save lives,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence).
But while AEDs are standard gear at shopping malls and state college campuses, and other places where numbers of people regularly congregate, middle schools or high schools in Rhode Island do not have them.
Acknowledging the value of AEDs to assist individuals in certain kinds of distress, including, according to the American Heart Association, young children, Leader Ruggerio has introduced legislation requiring defibrillators in all middle and high schools in the state, public or private. The legislation would also require AEDs to be available at all athletic fields or other locations where high schools or middle schools compete in sporting events.
“In an Illinois high school last year, a student collapsed and died after a drill team practice,” said Leader Ruggerio. “Since then, the state of Illinois has enacted legislation requiring AEDs in schools, making that state one of about 20 that have, so far, made deployment of the AEDs in schools mandatory. It’s time for Rhode Island to do the same.”
Having an AED in middle and high schools will be another safety measure not only for students, but also for teachers and other staff, said Leader Ruggerio. And while an ambulance is often present when some high school athletic contests are underway, they are not always present at every school sporting event.
While some have raised concerns about the use of AEDs on young children, the American Heart Association has indicated that children over 8 years of age can be treated with a standard AED, though it recommends pediatric attenuated pads for children between 1 and 8.
Senator Ruggerio said he understands that mandating AEDs in schools will entail another cost for school districts but said that “the potential good that can come from having these devices on hand far outweighs a little extra cost, especially when there are grants available for their purchase.”
“We need to take the steps necessary to protect our school children, even if there is a cost involved. This is a life-saving tool and it should not be left up to individual districts whether to have them or not,” he said.
It is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown) and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), who chairs the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services.
SOURCE: State of Rhode Island
 SCA Foundation note: According to the AHA Heart and Stroke Statistics 2015 update, about 6,000 children under age 18 suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year. More...