HB408 "The Andrew Cohn AED Act" would require AEDs in all Public Schools | Health
It only took a millisecond for a 15-year-old St. Marys, Ga. boy to go into sudden cardiac arrest.
Andrew Cohn was playing baseball May 15, 2010, when a runner struck him at just the wrong moment, and the impact jolted his perfectly healthy heart into an abnormal rhythm. Andrew collapsed on the field and died later that day. His parents learned that a heart-shocking device called an automated external defibrillator, or AED, could have saved his life, if only it had been within reach.
Sadly, Andrew’s story is one of many throughout the United States. An average of 16 children die every day of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It is the nation’s top killer, taking nearly a half million – 450,000 – lives every year. The only way to reverse SCA is to deliver a shock from an AED; chest compressions alone won’t work.
After losing Andrew, his parents, Harold and Becky Cohn, made it their life mission to educate the public about AEDs. They founded the AED Petition Now Alliance and set their first goal: to see AEDs mandated in all schools throughout the United States. They’re starting with Georgia, and on Feb. 1, Ga. Rep. Jason Spencer will introduce a bill named in Andrew’s honor.
HB408, "The Andrew Cohn AED Act,” would require all public schools to have at least one AED on site. Currently, only Georgia high schools are required to have AEDs.
“Many schools do not have an AED at all, even though it would cost just a few dollars per student to buy and maintain them,” Harold Cohn said. “We believe AEDs should be a required lifesaving device in schools, just like fire extinguishers.”
It is urgent to have AEDs on site, he explained, because every minute counts when someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest.
“If an AED is applied within the first three to five minutes, the chance of survival is as high as 90 percent,” he said. “Chances decrease ten percent every minute thereafter, and the national average for 911 response time is 10-12 minutes.”
He said sudden cardiac arrest among children isn’t just common, it’s an epidemic.
“For comparison, we lose more kids under 18 in one year to sudden cardiac arrest than the number of people we lost in both Middle East wars combined,” he said. “And SCA kills more people than breast and prostate cancer, AIDS, traffic accidents, firearms and house fires combined.”
The Cohns will be at Spencer’s side when he introduces the bill, and so will 12-year-old Kylee Shea, who made national news in September when she was saved by an AED. Her Texas school’s surveillance system caught it on tape when two PE teachers used the AED to shock her heart after she collapsed from SCA. Kylee is originally from Georgia, where AEDs are not mandated in middle and elementary schools. Even as she undergoes tests to find out what is wrong with her heart, she and her family are traveling at their own expense to support the cause to put AEDs in every school.
Kylee is the AED Petition Now Alliance’s spokesperson and a blogger on its website, www.aedsinschools.com.
Kylee will be accompanied by her parents and Brent Reese, one of the teachers who saved her. Reese was not trained to use an AED when Kylee collapsed, but he had the presence of mind to follow the easy instructions on the device to help save her life. Since her accident, he and her parents have undergone training to become CPR instructors.
Another supporter, Rachel Moyer, will be coming to Atlanta from Pennsylvania for the bill’s debut. Moyer lost her 15-year-old son, Greg, in 2000 during a basketball game. He died of SCA due to an undiagnosed enlarged heart. Moyer vowed not to put a marker on Greg's grave until there was at least one AED in every public school throughout the nation. She never expected it would take so long to see such a desperate need become a reality.
Rep. Spencer, along with the Cohns, the Sheas, Reese and Mrs. Moyer, will host a press conference at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, to share their stories and answer any questions. It will be held in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Room 610, at 18 Capitol Sq SW in Atlanta.
The people in this press release are also available for interviews at any time by phone or email, and photos are available upon request. Their contact information is included at the end of this message. The bill will be introduced sometime between 3 and 5 p.m.
The Cohns hope the bill will pass not only in Georgia, but that it will serve as a template for other states to adopt, as well.