The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that encourages every state in the country to require schools to have Automated External Defibrillators on hand to aid students suffering cardiac arrests.

Tennessee and 16 other states already have laws on the books requiring an AED in every school. The new law, spearheaded by Tennessee Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. urges other states to pass similar laws.

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“It will be up to each state’s legislative body to decide if they want to make similar requirements for their schools. This bill will bring attention to the tragedies that have occurred and the tragedies that can be prevented when students and even teachers suffer heart problems,” Congressman Duncan said.

When he introduced the bill in 2016, the Knoxville Republican said he has read numerous stories from across the country where a student's life has been placed in danger or lost because of limited awareness of and access to AEDs.

One of those was in East Tennessee, leading the Tennessee Legislature to pass the Tanner Lee Jameson Act in 2010.

Tanner Jameson, 13, was playing basketball at Eagleton Middle School in Maryville in 2009 when he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest.

The school had an AED in the main office at the time. Jameson’s mother, Rhonda Harrill, believes if students and staff would have known where it was, it would have saved his life.

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The Tanner Lee Jameson Act requires schools to have an AED in the gym, or if there is no gym, in a readily accessible location.

The Tennessee Legislature passed another bill requiring schools to take part in annual AED training.

That training likely saved a life at Knoxville’s Holston Middle School, where a young man who suffered cardiac arrest was saved by P.E. teachers. 

“It is my hope that we can start hearing more stories about lives that are saved by access to AED’s instead of hearing ones about lives lost due to lack of access,” Congressman Duncan said. 

Duncan compared his legislation encouraging other states to pass laws requiring AEDs in schools to the Aviation Medical Assistance Act he sponsored in 1988. That law requires all passenger airplanes to have defibrillators in their medical kids and requires the flight crew to receive training on using the devices in emergency situations.