Friday, April 9, 2010

Arkansas Approves Funding for Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in All Public Schools


Starting on the right are Lindsey, Tammy and Murry Busby, Chris Winston, Wes Busby, Barbara Kumpe, Government Relations Director for the AHA, Tammy and Bill Winston.

Display of a sampling of the some 11,000 coloring sheets and petitions collected from Students all across Arkansas in support of AEDs and CPR in their schools

American Heart Associations volunteers, staff and legislators came to together on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010, to participate in a very special press event. The event was held to acknowledge the support of our Governor and state Legislators for the funding to place automated external defibrillators on every public school campus statewide.

Early in 2010, three Arkansas students collapsed from heart issues during separate athletic events. Fortunately two students, Chris Winston and Wes Busby, were aided with an AED and survived their cardiac event. Eerily, one of the students who attended the same high school as Antony Hobbs, III fell to the floor on the same basketball court. The AED CPR in Schools Act was named in Hobbs' honor after his death on the basketball court back in 2008. Fortunately, Chris Winston had a happier ending. A nearby AED was used to stabilize his heart and save the student’s life.

These three instances helped refocus attention on the issue, and coupled with the AHA volunteer and staff efforts — including a grassroots movement in schools that generated 10,806 coloring sheets supporting AEDs signed by kids, direct lobbying of legislature AHA champions, recruiting assistance from the Department of Health and numerous media placements — helped get the funding bill passed.

Joining the activities were the families of the two students. Along with the third grade classes of Forrest Park Elementary who participated in National Wear Red back on February 5th.

On March 1, the Arkansas Governor signed into law ACT 270, which provides $200,000 in funds to finally make the Antony Hobbs III Act a reality. Coupled with additional funds from the 2009 Session the state will have $325,000 that will be used to fund AEDs in Arkansas schools. This Legislative victory actually began in 2007, when Arkansas high school student and basketball player Antony Hobbs III collapsed with heart failure during a game and tragically died moments later. Defibrillation may have saved Antony’s life, but there was no AED on campus. Over Arkansas’ last two legislative sessions, the American Heart Association and Antony’s parents have led the way to pass the act requiring an AED on every public school campus and CPR training for school personnel. The Antony Hobbs III Act was signed into law in 2009; however, the funding for the legislation had not yet been appropriated.

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