A Missouri state senator wants help to be a heartbeat away when a student’s heart stops. Sen. Karla Eslinger, R-Wasola, is sponsoring a bill that would require Missouri schools to develop and use a response plan in the case of a heart emergency or a similar life-threatening matter at school.

“It’s just these basic, really, fundamental things that are making sure that all of our kids are safe,” Eslinger told Missourinet. “It’s nothing outside the norm of what we as parents would really expect, I think, of what’s happening when my kids are participating in sporting event.”

According to Eslinger, Missouri schools already have emergency response plans but they look different from school to school. The plan would engage first responders and others to help schools form guidelines.

“Whenever parents send their children obviously to you, that’s their most precious, precious commodity. And the last thing that you want to do is not do the absolute best at making sure they’re safe,” said Eslinger. “Can you imagine that conversation if something bad went south? And then you’re saying, ‘Well, we had the equipment, but we weren’t sure how to use it, or we had the equipment, but we didn’t know where the key was.’ I’ve never heard of a story that that’s actually happening, but I want to make sure it never does.”

Her bill would require automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, to be placed in schools to jumpstart the heart.

“We’ve been investigating various grants and various ways in which to support that initial investment,” says Eslinger. “But the main purpose of this bill is that if you do have one, we probably really want to be careful about the way that we use it when a situation happens, that we’re prepared, that we’ve taken the time to get together and talk about the use of it. Where is it? You know, just simple things like who’s got the key.”

Eslinger, who is set to become Missouri’s next education commissioner in July, is a former school superintendent. Her school’s football quarterback had a heart transplant.

“As a superintendent of schools, as somebody who was watching the ballgame and knowing the history, it made me very uncomfortable. I kept thinking, ‘What if, what if? Are we ready? Can we handle this?’ The parents, the doctors signed off. Everybody was good with this boy playing, but I still had this uneasiness. We just said, ‘This is what’s going to happen if and we always had emergency medical people there.’”

The Senate could debate her legislation, Senate Bill 1032, at any time.

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