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An Indiana mother urges lawmakers to create a bill requiring defibrillators



Indianapolis, Indiana – AEDs, also known as automated external defibrillators, are required at all sporting events, including practices, at all Indiana schools under Senate Bill 369.

Play for Jake, a charity founded by Julie West, is urging the Indiana Legislature to approve the proposal. After being amended and passing both the House and Senate, the bill is presently in a conference committee.

Jake West, a LaPorte High School two-sport athlete, passed away in 2013 after leaving the practice field.

“Even in high school, he would see someone kind of being left out and picked on and he was the one that would stand up for that child or bring people in, he just had a smile on his face all the time,” the mother said.

West said her son never showed any signs of heart trouble or other health issues until he died. “His first sign of anything being wrong with his heart was sudden cardiac arrest, and that happens often. That could be the first sign of a condition of a heart condition, so that’s why it’s so important that we get our children screened on the front end.”

Senate Bill 369 might mandate the presence of AEDs at various after-school activities including band and theater rehearsals. The state’s Safe Schools Fund, a fund set aside to pay for improvements to school safety, would be used to pay for the AEDs. West said, “I’m hoping eventually mandated for all schools to have these sudden cardiac emergency response plans in their school, we practice every other drill, we know what to do we know how to protect kids.”

In order to identify potentially fatal heart conditions before it’s too late, the Play for Jake Foundation is also working with other NGOs to offer heart screenings for kids and teenagers.

“I had to wake up every day and decide: ‘What would Jake want me to do? How does he want me to live?’ I know my son well enough, and he’s such a great all-around kid, and he would want me to do what I am doing now,’” West said.


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