INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana lawmaker is planning to reintroduce a bill next year that would have expanded defibrillator requirements.
Senate Bill 306 would have required defibrillators at all athletic activities, and schools would have needed to create a response plan for situations when someone goes into cardiac arrest. It was passed unanimously by the state Senate, but was not considered by the House.
Several Indiana parents advocated for the bill, including Teresa Mago, who last celebrated Mother’s Day with all of her kids in 2018. That summer, she lost her 17-year-old son Zac.
“He was our middle child,” Mago said. “He was witty, caring, loving.”
It was later discovered Zac had an enlarged heart, his mother said.
“There was literally no signs, no symptoms, no warnings,” Mago said.
Since then, Mago started a foundation in her son’s name, offering heart screenings for teens and young adults. She said she was frustrated Senate Bill 306 was not passed by the full legislature.
“I just remember the entire weekend just carrying the heaviness of the House not listening to it,” Mago said.
State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), who chairs the House education committee, said the short legislative session didn’t provide enough time to give the bill a hearing.
“With this year’s legislative session being a short one and a large volume of complex legislation under consideration, Senate Bill 306 was unable to be heard in committee by the deadline,” Behning said in a statement. “If similar legislation is filed during next year’s session and I’m still chair of the House Education Committee, I will consider it for a hearing.”
“I was very disappointed along with all those that worked with me,” said State Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger), the bill’s author.
Rogers, who plans to reintroduce the proposal, said she feels more optimistic about the bill’s chances next year.
“Next year with the long session, I’m confident that we can make our case and move it through the General Assembly,” she said.
Meanwhile, advocates for the measure say they’ll keep working to ensure the bill gets passed and that more schools step up their response measures when it comes to cardiac arrest.
“Any school can do it,” said Tonya Aerts, a biomedical teacher at New Prairie High School. “It’s just looking at how you practice, how you go about things and then just asking some questions like, ‘What if?'”