Sudden cardiac arrest can strike at any age- and for the victims, every second counts. However, many schools do not have a plan in place to deal with emergency cardiac situations and the consequences can be deadly. Inspired by two students who suffered cardiac arrest on school grounds, the state of Massachusetts pursued legislation to require all schools in the state to develop Medical Emergency Response Plans. Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on April 18th.
Olivia Quigley was just 6 years old when she suffered her cardiac arrest in PE class and Michael Ellsessar was a sophomore on the JV football team when he suffered his arrest on the field at school. Because a response plan was in place at Olivia’s school, she survived- however, Michael was not able to receive the timely help he needed. Now, Olivia and her father Joe, and Michael’s parents John and LuAnn, have made it their mission to make schools staffer for students, staff and visitors. Thanks to their dedication and willingness to share their stories, they were instrumental in the passage of the bill.
Specifically the new law requires schools to develop:
- A method to establish a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus with Emergency Medical Services
- Protocols for activating EMS and additional emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency
- A determination of EMS response time to any location on campus
- A list of relevant contacts and a protocol for contacting them, including post event support
- A method to direct EMS personnel to any location on campus
- A method to direct EMS to available rescue equipment
- Safety precautions to prevent injuries
- A method for providing training in CPR and First Aid to teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and others – which may include High School students
- A listing of the location of AEDs and the school personnel trained to use the AED
The law also requires the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to report to the legislature on the implementation of the law, including the number of students and personnel certified in CPR and First Aid and the number of students who opt out of CPR instruction.