COLUMBUS, Ohio — The injury to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during Monday Night Football has shined a new light on the issue of sudden cardiac arrest. But you may be surprised to learn that if your child suffered a similar medical emergency, there’s no guarantee that schools or public recreation facilities in Ohio will have a potentially life-saving piece of equipment on hand.
Automated external defibrillators or AEDs are designed to shock a person’s heart back into rhythm in the case of sudden cardiac arrest.
But despite recommendations, and an effort to require AEDs in school, the devices are not mandatory in Ohio.
It’s a reality that frustrates Scott and Stephanie Kornet.
“Talking to the senators and state representatives, we thought, ‘wow, this would be so easy for them to pass a bill,” said Scott Kornet.
His son, Alec Kornet, was just 17-years old when he collapsed during high school hockey practice in February, 2017.
“I did CPR on my own son,” said Kornet. “And as we’re doing it, he took his last breath.”
The Brush High School junior was pronounced dead at the hospital – a victim of sudden cardiac arrest.
The Kornets knew they had to warn other parents of the risk.
That mission grew into 4Alec, a foundation aimed at raising awareness and preventing sudden cardiac arrest.
That includes pushing for AEDs in schools and on sidelines.
And the family’s not alone.
In a September report issued by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, the organization recommended an AED “should be available and accessible onsite and medical and coaching staff should be trained in the use.”
The report also noted “The number of…cardiac related events has increased over the years.”
NCCSIR documented 28 cases of sudden cardiac arrest in high school and college sports during the 2020-2021 school year.
“We really can’t wait any longer,” said State Representative Rich Brown. “Time is of the essence and it needs to be taken care of now.”
Last year the Franklin County democrat sponsored a bill requiring AEDs in the schools and at public recreation facilities.
The bill never made it out of committee.
He plans to reintroduce the proposal in coming weeks, hoping this time lawmakers will act.
Brown, points out there are AEDs located on each floor of the state building where legislators have their offices and said he believes Ohio kids should have access to the same kind of life-saving equipment.
“All it takes is it to happen to your kid to realize, ‘wow, my child could have been saved if we had this $1,200 piece of equipment there and somebody who knew how to use it,” said Brown.
The Kornets believe mandating AEDs would save other parents from the pain they live with every day.
“We’re not asking for the world,” said Stephanie Kornet, “we’re just asking to save another life. Plain and simple.”
The couple is hopeful a new spotlight on the risk of sudden cardiac arrest will mean someone finally hears their pleas.
“Let’s be honest, an AED is a lot cheaper than a funeral, right?” said Stephanie Kornet. “Why not have them?”
In a position statement dating back to the summer of 2016, the Ohio High School Athletic Association acknowledged “It is desirable to provide AED’s at as many event sites as possible.”
However, a spokesman said the organization could not require schools to have them, adding “often times, schools weigh the cost of those types of items vs. the risk.”
The agency also said it did not have data showing how many schools have AEDs in their athletic facilities.
You can watch more about AED's can help save students' lives in the player below: