Georgia lawmakers are set to review a new bill that would require all public schools in Georgia to have an automated external defibrillator, or AED, on-site for emergencies.
Awareness around AEDs and quick response to cardiac events gained new attention following NFL safety Damar Hamlin’s on-field collapse in January 2023. Now, advocates tell 11Alive they hope that will lead to improved access to AEDs in schools across the country.
Bethany Norris’ family is among those who know the difference AED access can make. When Norris’ daughter Audrey collapsed during a middle school field day in 2021, it was the quick action of school staff and close access to an AED that doctors say saved Audrey’s life.
“Within like seconds, she had people that were on her that were checking her vitals, somebody started doing CPR,” Norris said. “Somebody else ran immediately to get the AED that was in the field house.”
Audrey had collapsed mid-run on the high school field, Norris learned. Despite screenings, the family had no indication she had an underlying heart condition.
“She has a condition called CPVT,” Norris said, “and what it does is when she gets into exercise or stress, the adrenaline that goes into her heart, it causes her to have a cardiac event.”
“She takes medicine now to control that, but before we knew she had it, she obviously was not on that medication, and she had been running cross-country. She had been doing athletics,” Norris added. “For her heart condition, that’s very common for kids to have no issues until all of a sudden it triggers.”
Dr. Jonathan Kim, a cardiologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, explained that even with screenings, there will still be cases like Audrey’s that go under the radar.
“Somewhere between seven and 20,000 children per year will have a cardiac event,” Dr. Kim said. “This includes teen athletes but also children.”
When cardiac emergencies happen, time is precious, underscoring the need for CPR training and quick access to AEDs.
Read the full story on 11 Alive here.