It’s likely that every Oregon school will be required to have an automatic heart defibrillator available by 2015, reports the Oregonian. The House Education Committee voted 7-3 in favor of the requirement Feb. 19, and it now heads to the House floor. The full Senate approved Senate Bill 1033 earlier this week. Members of the House panel said they were reluctant to impose an unfunded mandate on schools, and they said they hope local donors will help pay the costs. But they said the potential to save lives moved them to vote yes on the mandate. Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, will make the case for the bill when it comes before the House. She testified with tears in her eyes that, in 2001, her young nephew died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart problem at school. “This equipment very possibly could have saved his life,” she said. Automatic defibrillators, designed to be easy for lay people to use, shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. They typically cost $1,500 to $2,000. Some lawmakers questioned whether tiny rural schools can afford and truly need one. The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, noted, “Rural schools often do more than just be a schoolhouse. Often they are the place for community events. … Emergency services are very important. We don’t actually think about them too much. But as a guy who has ridden in an ambulance twice in the last year, I’ll tell you, it’s nice to have around. This is important for rural Oregon.”

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