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Proposed Legislation Would Require Defibrillators in Schools as of July 1, 2009

Legislation winding its way through the General Assembly could mandate that local and regional boards of education employ automatic external defibrillators as soon as July 1, 2009. In fact, S.B. 981 as proposed requires schools to train personnel in defibrillator operation and in the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation at each school under the board’s jurisdiction. In addition, a defibrillator and trained personnel would be required to be accessible during the school’s normal hours of operations, during school-sponsored athletic practices and athletic events that take place on schools grounds, and during school sponsored events that occur before or after normal operational hours.

Moreover, by June 10, 2010, each school with an athletic department or organized athletic program would be required to develop an emergency action response plan to address the appropriate use of school personnel who will respond to incidents that involve an individual who experiences a sudden cardiac arrest or a similar life-threatening emergency while attending or participating in an athletic practice or event on school grounds.

The proposed bill enjoys wide support and will likely become effective in the near future. Boards of education should consider labor relations implications, as well as begin to identify personnel who will require training upon passage of the law. Training is essential even if schools already employ defibrillators. Section of 52-557b of the General Statues, which is also known as the “Good Samaritan Law,” provides immunity to only those school employees who have received training and who do not commit acts that constitute gross, willful or wanton negligence.