New Law Would Require Defibrillators in Massachusetts Schools
The Massachusetts legislature passed a long-gestating bill earlier this week that, if signed into law, will require schools to have Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, in school and at all school-sponsored athletic events.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), would also require at least one person to be trained in the usage of the AED.
Montigny, speaking to WBSM News, called the passage of the bill "bittersweet" because of how long it took for it to pass, and for the lives lost in the meantime.
"That's why I'm disgusted by it," he said. "Legislative bodies don't always get the logic of the public, and it is very frustrating."
Montigny said it was a shame that it took so long for the bill to pass, and that it even has to become a law for AEDs to become commonplace.
"I don't think there is anything more egregious than a school administrator or a local official who suggests they can't afford one of these," Montigny said. "What I say as a rebuttal is then you shouldn't be in the business of educating young people."
Each device costs about $900, but Montigny said there are a number of ways to defer or even eliminate that cost.
"Schools can apply to foundations, they can apply for a waiver, they can raise the money or ask others to raise the money," he said. "You can get them a lot cheaper by working directly with the manufacturers."
Sen. Montigny helped distribute 25 AED devices across New Bedford this past October, as part of a program in memory of city native and advocate Sean Toomey, who died of a heart attack in June 2014 at the age of 42.
Montigny also said training to operate the AED is "very simple," and that parents, coaches, athletic trainers and other volunteers can be trained how to use one in minutes.
He also said most schools in his district already have AEDs in place, and that he expects most schools in the state would have them in place by the time the bill is signed into law, or very soon thereafter.