Ohio will soon require schools and recreation centers to have defibrillators

Ohio will soon require schools and recreation centers to have defibrillators

An automated external defibrillator helped save the life of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin after he collapsed during a Cincinnati Bengals game in 2023. Soon, Ohio will require schools to have AEDs to save the lives of even more athletes youths.

House Bill 47 would require public schools, charter schools and most public recreation centers to have AEDs on their premises in case an athlete or spectator suffers sudden cardiac arrest. The device delivers an electric shock to help the heart return to its normal rhythm.

Damar Hamlin: CPR saved my life in Cincinnati. I’m helping all Americans learn it.

The bill heads to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk after a unanimous vote in the Ohio Senate, with the House approving minor changes.

“If these devices are important enough to have here in the state capital and ready for use by our professional athletes, then they are important enough to have in our schools and other places where youth sports are played,” said Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among young athletes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Between 1 in 50,000 and 1 in 80,000 young athletes die each year from sudden cardiac death.

Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, spoke before the vote about how an AED saved her father’s life when he had a heart attack while volunteering at her niece’s school.

“Someone had the opportunity to find the AED there, when he was having a heart attack, and use it to bring him back, and so we were able to be with him for 10 more years,” Antonio said.

Hamlin suffered sudden cardiac arrest while playing in Cincinnati last year. He was resuscitated and then cleared to return to football. Hamlin has since advocated for greater access to AEDs and CPR.

Once the Ohio bill is signed, the state health department will develop a model emergency action plan that schools can use. Schools must also train teachers, principals, coaches, athletic trainers and others on how to use AEDs.

Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, serving the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations throughout Ohio.