Okla. House passes AED bill, doesn't provide funding

Lawton_State House members have passed a bill that would put an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in all Oklahoma schools.  The AED is a portable machine that administers an electric shock to people who are in cardiac arrest, or are having arrhythmias.  Many educators fully support the bill, but the legislation doesn't provide state funding for the machine.

The bill encourages donations from the private sector, and lawmakers say they'll try to get grant money from the federal government in order to pay for them.  School administrators think it's a great idea - since they can't afford them at the moment.

Medical technology has come a long way.  Doctors and medical technicians used to be the only people who could defibrillate a patient.  But, with the AED proper instruction is all that is needed.  "The machine will analyze the rhythm by itself," says Registered Nurse Angelina Sherman.  "If the machine finds there's something it can help with, it will tell you this person is appropriate for a shock."

The medical community says the more defibrillators in the public the better.  "The longer it takes to defibrillate somebody, the less chance they have of surviving that cardiac event," Sherman says.

Lawton Public Schools already has three defibrillators for high school athletic trainers, along with one at every high school, and middle school building.  "Our high schools and middle schools are large, so we placed them in the center of the building so it will be close if anyone needed it," says Dr. Linda Dzialo of Lawton Public Schools (LPS).  Ideally we would like to have more than one at those large sites."

LPS would like to provide at least one AED to every elementary school as well, but paying for them is a challenge.  Each of the AEDs cost LPS about $1,400 each.  "I suspect this bill will raise awareness to the importance of AEDs," says Dzialo.  "That lives can be saved by them, and hopefully some private funders, foundations, or individuals will step up and help schools place those in schools."

The author of this bill says he believes that by having the state involved in the effort, it will lend credibility to the legislation, and possibly even help lower the cost of AEDs if they are bought in bulk.  The parents of a Carter County boy were two big supporters of the bill.  Their son collapsed and died during a basketball game in Dixon just a few weeks ago.  They believe a defibrillator may have saved his life.