AEDs protect and save lives from the leading cause of death in the United States, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Placement of AEDs in public places, including schools, is one of the strategies that policymakers have been pursuing in order to reduce deaths from SCA.
On any given day, 20% of the U.S. population can be found in school. Given this, and the prevalence of SCA among adults and students, schools are a logical place for life-saving defibrillators.
Despite recommendations that AEDs be placed in schools from the scientific community and health organizations like the American Heart Association, the laws on AED requirements for schools vary widely from state to state.
Some states have mandatory AED school laws, requiring AED placement and widespread training, while others have less stringent policies or leave it entirely up to the school management’s discretion.
Out of 50 states, only 17 have requirements for the installation of AEDs on school campuses. The requirements vary for different school grades, public or private schools, and for different school events.
The 17 states with AED requirements for schools are:
Alabama (Act 2009-754, p. 2278, §1.): AEDs are mandated in all K-12 public schools in the state and the device must be regularly inspected and maintained. Schools are also encouraged but not required to facilitate the training of personnel on AED use.
Arkansas (A.C.A. § 6-10-122): Beginning May 2011, the state has required all school campuses to have an AED on site as well as adequately trained personnel. The state provides grants and fundraisers to schools to help them with the budgetary means of acquiring and maintaining the AEDs.
California (Assembly Bill 2009): a 2018 amendment of the California Education Code requires the presence of at least one AED in all public and charter schools that have interschool athletic programs. There is also a recommendation that trainers and coaches at athletic events are trained adequately to handle SCA emergencies.
Connecticut (Public Act No. 12-197): in 2010, the state of Connecticut passed an amendment requiring each school board to facilitate the placement of an AED in each school and the training of personnel on AED use and CPR. The law requires that the AED is available during normal school hours, athletic events, and all school-sponsored events.
Florida (Florida Statutes 1006.165): in 1999, Florida was the first state to enact AED laws in schools. The law requires all public schools to have an operational AED on the school grounds at all times. Additionally, all schools are required to train employees with appropriate lifesaving skills including CPR, how to use an AED, and basic first aid.
Illinois (105 ILCS 110/3): beginning with the 2014/2015 school year, the state requires training on AED use and CPR in the curriculums of all secondary schools.
Louisiana (HB No. 542): beginning in January 2018, Louisiana mandated all high schools and colleges that participate in intramural athletics to have one AED on their premises. Students between grades 9 and 12 must also receive instructions on AED use and CPR.
Maryland (Code of Maryland Regulation 13A.05.05.05-.15): all public schools must have a registered AED and an individual trained in AED use on its grounds during school events. In all high schools, there must be a person trained in AED use and CPR at all times.
Massachusetts (Bill S.2449): beginning July 1, 2018 each school must have an AED on their premises and at all school-sponsored athletic events. In addition, a staffer certified in CPR and AED use by the AHA must be present on the school grounds.
Nevada (NRS 450B.620): in all counties exceeding a population of 100,000, there must be at least one AED in every high school, placed in a central location. Students in middle school and high school must also be trained in CPR and AED use.
New Jersey (N.J.S.A. 18A:40-41a through 41c): a law known as “Janet’s Law” requires all schools to have an AED on school property in an unlocked location and with clear signage at all times. A designated staff member, trained in AED use and CPR must also be present during all athletic events and practice.
North Dakota (Century Code, 15.1-07-31): the state mandates school district superintendents to purchase and place AEDs at all schools and at the site of school-related activities. In addition, every school that acquires an AED shall facilitate the training of designated responders to operate the AED.
Oklahoma (2014 Oklahoma Statutes Title 70. Schools §70-1210.199): the state recommends that schools with the financial ability avail at least one AED on school premises. Schools must train students from ninth-grade onwards how to use AEDs and administer CPR and must have one or more teachers certified in AED use.
Oregon (Senate Bill 1033 Section 2): every school including community colleges must have a well-maintained AED on site. The school must also provide instruction on CPR and AED use for all students in grades 7 to 12.
Rhode Island (R.I. Gen Laws – 23-6.5-2): all middle and high schools must have AEDs on their premises and students must be trained on AED use and CPR before they graduate. A staffer trained in AED use and maintenance must also be present at all times.
South Carolina (Title 44 – Health CHAPTER 76): the state requires AEDs to be placed in all high schools and students in grades 9 to 12 to be CPR/AED trained. A trained designated user of the AED must also be present on the school campus at all times.
Texas (Senate Bill No.7): each school district is mandated to have at least one AED on every school campus as well as a trained employee for any gathering with substantial attendance by students. Students must also be trained in CPR and AED use between grades 7 and 12.
Despite higher SCA survival rates at schools with AED programs, the American College of Cardiology reported that nearly 35 million public elementary and secondary students attend school in U.S. states with no legislative requirement for a school AED. That’s a scary statistic.
Unfortunately, less than 50% of the States require AEDs to be placed in schools. And even in the states that require AEDs in schools, there is great variability in the comprehensiveness of the legislation:
It’s also worth noting that of the states that require AEDs in school, only 5 provide guaranteed funding and 4 provide conditional funding for school-based AED programs. Since the main barrier to more widespread deployment of AEDs on campuses is the high cost of the devices, this inadequate financial support by the remaining states is disappointing.
In the remaining states across the country, the lack of emphasis and status quo for SCA preparedness on school campuses is simply not good enough, especially when there’s a clear solution available that is proven to save lives. With over 1/5th of the U.S. population being on a school campus daily, more states need to seriously consider expanding their AED legislation to include a requirement for placement in schools, as well as funding to support such a deployment.
Now that you’ve learned about AED requirements in schools, learn about lives saved due to school AED programs.
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