Downingtown, PA- March 16, 2023 – State Senator Katie Muth today joined dozens of students, teachers, advocates and legislators at Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center in Downingtown Area School District to announce the introduction of two Senate bills to ensure protection against sudden cardiac arrest in Pennsylvania schools.
Senate Bill 512 will require that each school building in Pennsylvania has at least one AED placed in a central, accessible location and require school districts to create emergency action plans and certified emergency response teams to respond to incidents of sudden cardiac arrest. Senate Bill 513 would require all coaches of athletic teams and supervisors of all afterschool activities become certified in CPR and in the use of an AED.
“Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time, without symptoms or warning signs, which is why it is imperative our children are surrounded by individuals who are prepared to act and to save a life,” Muth said. “Whether requiring each school building to have an AED or ensuring teachers, coaches and supervisors are certified in CPR and the use of AEDs, this is a public safety issue. Working with Aidan’s Heart Foundation, we put together a gold standard bill – this is not just recommending, we want to make sure our schools have AEDs, have CPR training, and have an emergency action plan in place to respond to incidents of sudden cardiac arrest.”
Most of the states that share PA’s borders have AED requirements for schools (NY, NJ, MD and WV). PA does not require AEDs in schools. Nearly half of all states currently have some level of recommendation, guideline or requirement regarding AEDs in school buildings, but vary state to state, especially with enforcement and accurate tracking of compliance. Although laws might be in place, how they’re being enforced and accountability need to be considered.
Act 35 of 2014 required school entities to report to the Pennsylvania Department of Education about AEDs in each school but under the current reporting requirements in law, there is no way of knowing if the AEDs in school buildings are under warranty, still within their useful life or rescue-ready. Senate Bill 512 would also make several updates to these reporting requirements and require at least 10 percent of school personnel in each building are members of the emergency response team and are certified in CPR and trained in the use of an AED.
Christy-Marshall Silva, President of Aidan’s Heart Foundation, stated that sudden cardiac arrest is more often caused by undiagnosed cardiac issues that can only be detected with an EKG exam, yet EKGs are not a standard in pediatric protocol. As a result, 1 out of every 300 students in schools has an undetected heart issue that does not show any signs or symptoms and that could cause the heart to stop at any moment.
“Damar Hamlin is alive and making a full recovery from his cardiac arrest because the people around him knew what to do and took action, and because a life-saving AED device was nearby. Our kids deserve the same standards of protection as our professional athletes,” Marshall-Silva added. “Every school should have at least one operational AED, a team of CPR-certified staff trained in how to use it, and an emergency plan in place for when the unexpected happens. All coaches should be certified in CPR and know what to do in a life-or-death emergency. Having these measures in place will change survival rate from the current 5% to almost 90%. Let’s do our part in helping to take care of each other, and do better for our kids. They’re worth it.”
Senator Muth’s two bills were both recently referred to the Senate Education Committee. State Reps. Christina Sappey and Danielle Friel-Otten indicated at today’s press conference that they will be introducing companion bills in the House to Senate Bill 512 and Senate Bill 513.
Other participants in the press conference included Dr. Robert O’Donnell, Superintendent, Downingtown Area School District; Dr. George Fiore, Executive Director, Chester County Intermediate Unit; Chris Saello, President & CEO, United Way of Chester County; Tom Mulvey, Principal, Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center; Greta Neff, Health/Phyiscal Education Director, Downingtown Area School District; Jen Mikulich, Nursing Department Director, Downingtown Area School District; and Maycie Kulp, 11th grade student and Aidan’s Heart Foundation Heart Hero Leader.
A full recording of today’s press conference is available at www.senatormuth.com/video.
# # #