Local News

Jake's Law Moving Again at Statehouse

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman is optimistic her proposal aimed at saving lives at school will be adopted by state lawmakers this year.  The measure, called “Jake’s Law”, would require schools to have automatic external defibrillators within quick access during athletic events.


The devices are used as an attempt to restore a heartbeat by automatically diagnosing a life threatening cardiac arrhythmia then applying electricity to help the heart reestablish an effective rhythm.


La Porte City Councilwoman Julie West helped draft the proposed legislation, which passed the Indiana State Senate recently.  It’s been assigned to a committee in the Indiana House where the proposal died last year from lack of a hearing.  West said she is hopeful of a different outcome.


“It’s a life-saving bill.  I can’t imagine it not going through,” she said.


West says the measure would require automatic external defibrillators be kept where they can be accessed in three minutes or less.  The devices would also have to be regularly maintained because they must be in working order in the event of a medical emergency.  She said the bill also calls for development of an action plan at schools for sudden cardiac arrest.


In 2013, her son, Jake, collapsed at football practice in La Porte and died from an undiagnosed genetic heart condition.  Ever since his passing, West and her "Play for Jake Foundation" raises money to provide free heart screenings every year for students in the area.  Her objective is preventing another child from being dealt the same fate as her son.


West pointed to the recent collapse of Damar Hamblin, a football player for the Buffalo Bills, for the need to assure quick response.  Hamblin’s heart stopped during a game and he might have died had it not been for quick response by medics close to the field.


“I want to make sure we do everything possible to make sure this doesn’t happen to another child or person or a family.  That’s what keeps me going,” she said.

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