(WBIR- Blount County) An East Tennessee mother who lost her son to cardiac arrest is backing a bill that would require school staff and students to train and do drills with Automated External Defibrillators (AED).
Rhonda Harrill's 13-year-old son, Tanner Jameson, grew up playing baseball and basketball.
"His coach said Tanner had probably the best endurance, probably better than high schoolers, always on the go," Harrill said.
In June 2009, Tanner played in a summer basketball game at Eagleton Middle School in Maryville. Harrill said Tanner told his coach he wasn't feeling well and took a seat on the bench. Moments later Tanner collapsed.
"I first got the call from my oldest son telling me, you know, mom they're taking him to the hospital," Harrill said. "I thought broke finger, busted nose."
The prognosis was much worse for Tanner. He died shortly after collapsing from cardiac arrhythmia.
Harrill believes Tanner would still be alive today if an AED had been accessible to shock his heart back into rhythm.
"[I] had heard of AEDs, didn't know if the school had one," she said. "They did, but it was locked up in the office, and it was behind a mailbox where teachers get their mail. You would have never known it was there."
After Tanner's death Harill made it her mission to ensure that AEDs could be easily accessed in schools in emergency situations.
She worked with local lawmakers to pass the Tanner Lee Jameson Act in 2010, which put into law that schools must place an AED in the gym, and if there is no gym, it must be in a readily accessible location.
Now Harrill is pushing for another bill with state Sen. Doug Overbey and state Rep. Bob Ramsey as the sponsors. This bill would require schools to have an annual trainings and drills on the proper use of AEDs.
Overbey said in a statement, "We are continuing this effort with this year's legislation to help ensure that schools will train their personnel in the use of AEDs and that appropriate CPR and AED drills are conducted so that lifesaving measures will be more than a theoretical possibility but will be put into actual practice if and when an emergency arises."
Harrill misses her son every day, but it's Tanner's heart that keeps hers beating to help others.
"I feel like this was Tanner's gift," she said, "and I'm just the lucky one who gets to tell it."