Baker to sign AED legislation inspired by Westfield family

Bill supporters believe having defibrillators at every school can save lives

BOSTON (WWLP) – A bill inspired by a Westfield family is just one signature away from becoming law. Governor Charlie Baker told 22News he plans to sign a new law this week to require all schools in Massachusetts, public and private, to have an automated external defibrillator on site.

He said, “I normally don’t talk about legislation that’s on our desk until it’s gone through a full review, but I happen to be pretty familiar with that particular bill and we’re going to sign it. I congratulate the Legislature for getting it done.”

For Susan Canning of Westfield, this accomplishment is personal. Her 19-year old son Kevin died after suffering sudden cardiac arrest while swimming five years ago. Bill supporters believe having defibrillators at every school can save lives.

The machines cost about $1,000 each. Under the legislation, schools would have to find a way to pay for it under their own budget. Nearly 300 Massachusetts schools have no AEDs.

Westfield state Representative John Velis said, “We should be less concerned with the cost. Kids are dying when these machines aren’t there. That should be what’s paramount.”

Under the proposal, schools have the option to apply for a hardship waiver if they cannot afford a defibrillator.

The bill also requires all schools to have a staff member trained and certified to use an AED present during school hours and at school-sponsored events.