Bill of the week: The Josh Miller Helping Everyone Access Responsive Treatment in Schools (HEARTS) Act

Bill of the Week, a new feature in The Hill, highlights a recently introduced piece of legislation that might not make front-page news but otherwise catches the eye.

Title: The Josh Miller Helping Everyone Access Responsive Treatment in Schools (HEARTS) Act

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Number: S. 2106

Sponsor: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

Co-sponsors: Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Date introduced: Feb. 14

Summary: This bill would authorize the Education secretary to award grants to local educational agencies to buy Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and provide funds to train teachers and staff in using AEDs and CPR. The program’s goal would be to treat heart-attack victims while waiting on emergency personnel to arrive. The legislation would require schools to provide $1 of private funding for every $3 of federal funding received through the program.

Bill’s origin: Brown introduced the bill to honor an Ohio high school football player who died from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) during a game in 2000.  Josh Miller, after whom the bill is named, never experienced heart problems before he died of SCA at the age of 15.  In a press release, Brown said, “Automatic external defibrillators are easy to use — and can mean the difference between life or death during the onset of sudden cardiac arrest.”

What others say: Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition President Mary Newman noted the importance of acting quickly when dealing with heart attack victims, saying, “Even the best EMS services can’t arrive before a bystander.” 

Newman said more than 380,000 people have a sudden cardiac arrest each year, and approximately 1 in 10 survive.

Bill’s history: Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) introduced the Josh Miller HEARTS Act in April 2011 for a third time, after it passed the House in two previous Congresses only to be killed in the Senate. Former Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) introduced the two previous companion bills in the Senate.

Extras: According to the Lansing State Journal, a Michigan high school basketball player who collapsed and died after making a game-winning shot in March 2011 was inducted into his school’s sports hall of fame earlier this month. Wes Leonard was a 16-year-old player for the Fennville Blackhawks. After being rushed to the hospital, he died from sudden cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart.

To suggest a Bill of the Week, email Kris Kitto at kkitto@thehill.com.