Tennessee latest state to mandate automatic defibrillators at high schools

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joined Gov. Bill Lee in celebrating a newly enacted law requiring all Tennessee high schools to keep an automated external defibrillator available during classes, athletic practices and games

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joined Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday to celebrate Tennessee's new law requiring all high schools to keep an automated external defibrillator available during classes, athletic practices and games.

Lee signed the legislation earlier this year, but held a formal ceremony Tuesday marking the “Smart Heart Act” at Nashville's Pearl-Cohn High School. Goodell is in Nashville for the NFL's spring meetings.

According to the statute, any public school with grades nine through 12 must set, review and rehearse an emergency plan to be ready when students have a cardiac arrest or other life-threatening injury. The law also requires school personnel both on and off the field to have training in both CPR and in using AEDs.

Those are the three requirements the Smart Heart Sports Coalition wants adopted adopted in all 50 states since launching in March 2023. The coalition includes the NFL and other major sports leagues and health advocacy groups trying to prevent high school students from dying of sudden cardiac arrests.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a game at Cincinnati on Jan 2, 2023. He had to be resuscitated with the game called off. He returned to play last season.

Bronny James, son of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, had a cardiac arrest July 24 during practice at the University of Southern California that led to the diagnosis of a congenital heart defect.

A Vanderbilt men's basketball player collapsed during practice in March 2006. An AED also restarted his heart. Davis Nwankwo later diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

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Associated Press sports writer Teresa Walker contributed to this report.

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