Home  Newsroom  Headlines

Tennessee High Schools May Get Funding for Defibrillators

Tennessee high schools may get funding for defibrillators, effort inspired by Maryville teen

Melinda Truax's son, Matthew, collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest on the track at Meadowdale High School two years ago. KING

The state Senate has passed a bill to make sure all high school gymnasiums in the state are equipped with automatic external defibrillators.

The bill has not yet been signed into law.

It's the latest step in a Maryville mother's journey to make sure other students don't die on the gym floor like her 13-year-old son did in 2009.

“I am very pleased that this bill has been approved,” state Sen. Art Swann, who represents Maryville, said in a news release.

“Hopefully, the legislation we have passed will avert another tragedy, including those of staff or visitors to the school who may need this life-saving device.”

Who was Tanner Lee Jameson?

Eight years ago the Tanner Lee Jameson Act passed in Tennessee requiring schools to place an AED in their gymnasiums, or in a readily accessible location if the school has no gym.

The new bill, Senate Bill 410, provides funds for defibrillators in high schools which have not been able to afford them.

Tanner Lee Jameson fell unconscious at the Eagleton Middle school gym where he was playing basketball nine years ago on a summer Friday afternoon.

Authorities told the Knoxville News Sentinel at the time that he had been complaining of feeling ill. A coach told him to sit on a bench and rest.

Minutes later, Jameson was lying in front of it. His coach began performing CPR and had someone call 911.

Tanner was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital where responders tried but failed to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead within an hour.

An autopsy later revealed Jameson died of cardiac arrhythmia.

Rhonda Harrill, Tanner's mother, testified before the Tennessee General Assembly the next year, and the first piece of legislation regarding AED placement in schools was passed.

Training on AED use also required

In 2016, Congressman John Duncan, R-Tenn., also introduced legislation at the national level encouraging state legislatures to consider laws requiring the life-saving devices.

Later that year, the Tennessee General Assembly expanded on the rule by passing a bill to ensure school personnel have training on AED use.

The bill made AED training an annual part of school in-service days and meetings and required the instruction be included in the school curriculum for high school juniors and seniors.

But not all schools could afford the AEDs, so the state Senate has stepped in again to appropriate funds toward buying them for high schools across the state.

AEDs save lives, including News Sentinel photographer's

AEDs can dramatically reduce fatality rates from unexpected cardiac arrest.

When CPR is performed correctly and an AED is used, survival chances almost triple compared to those who do not receive CPR or an AED, according to the American Heart Association

Three shocks from an AED restarted the heart of News Sentinel photographer Michael Patrick when his heart stopped on a photo assignment at Dollywood last March.

"There's no way around it — I fell over and I was dead," Patrick said later. "If they had not been there, I would still be dead because it took professional action right that minute to save my life."

Story Credit: https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2018/04/25/tennessee-high-schools-may-get-funding-defibrillators-effort-inspired-maryville-teen/549560002/