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Lawmakers looking to make AEDs mandatory at schools and sporting events

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BATON ROUGE - The idea of having life saving devices available for athletes is moving from one field to another.

State lawmakers are looking to make automatic external defibrillators, AEDs, mandatory in all schools and sponsored athletic events.

"We want to save lives and this is one way of doing it. It makes our schools safer, you know? Folks say well it's just for the student athletes.. no, it's for everybody. We focus on the student athlete but it's also for every student, every teacher, every administrator and visitor. You'll never know when it happens, and when it does, because it will happen. When it does, all schools should be prepared," State Senator Cleo Fields said.

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, sports related cardiac arrests accounted for 39% of incidents involving people under the age of 18. After football fans watched Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffer from a sudden cardiac arrest, awareness has been raised to promote life-saving treatment at sporting events.

“I’m all for this bill, I think it’s critical to have at your fingertips in case something happens. You hope nobody experiences a tragedy like this but if you can prevent it you’ve got to have those to do so,” Denham Springs High School Athletic Director and head football coach Brett Beard said.

Beard experienced this first hand when one of his players, Remy Hidalgo, died from a heat stroke. The loss of Remy left the community of Denham Springs broken. Beard says he supports taking extra measures like this to protect athletes doing what they love.

“Really I think the AEDs at schools are part two. I think part one is making sure our kids are getting their hearts screened as many times as possible or at least once a year. Offer that to the schools so everyone can do it or afford it or make it for free."

If passed by legislators, the bill will make AEDs available at all schools and sporting events in the state. It will also ensure that someone trained is on hand if the device must be used.

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