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Groveport mother, state lawmaker pushing for portable defibrillators at all athletic events

In Ohio, educators are required to be instructed on how to use defibrillators, but there are no laws that mandate schools have them on-site, according to a lawmaker.

As a mother of six children, four of whom play soccer, Jennifer Dunaway is not only a soccer mom but a soccer referee, a soccer administrator and a trainer.

“For me to know that these fields are not equipped with what is needed to save a life is not acceptable to me,” she says.

Dunaway, of Groveport, is talking about automated external defibrillators also known as AEDs.

About the size of a lunchbox, these machines are designed to provide audio and visual instructions to help someone restart a person's heart when they go into sudden cardiac arrest.

“I think that every soccer field, every sporting event should have an AED on it,” Dunaway said.

But in Ohio, that’s not the case, because while there are laws that require educators to be instructed on how to use them there are no laws that mandate schools have them on-site, according to Ohio State Representative Richard Brown (D - Canal Winchester).

Brown is now working with Dunaway to change that.

“Right now, the law requires training on AEDs for all school employees with some exceptions but it doesn't require the machines on school property. I want to make that mandatory,” he says.

Ohio does have Lindsay’s law which went into effect in 2017 which mandates coaches, parents and athletes to watch a video about the risks of sudden cardiac arrest. 

Sudden cardiac arrest, also known as SCA is one of the leading causes of death among young athletes.

SCA is different than a heart attack. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly.

People suffering from sudden cardiac arrest will lose consciousness within seconds. They also won't have a pulse. Other sudden cardiac arrest signs include loss of breathing or shortness of breath, fainting and overall weakness. Sometimes, sudden cardiac arrest can occur after a heart attack.

Dunaway said she knew she needed to do something after learning last month that Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen had collapsed during a match and his life was saved by a portable defibrillator.

Dunaway said that was her lightbulb moment to contacted her state representative to change Ohio law.

“What I’m asking parents to do is to reach to what every program is closest to you and let them know this is important,” she said.

Recently, Columbus City Council approved AEDs for 20 police cruisers.

These Columbus parks also have AEDs.

If you are interested in learning how to be trained to use AEDs you can contact the American Red Cross here.  

You can read Jennifer Dunaway’s blog post about the need for AEDs here.


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