Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed this week the Smart Heart Act, legislation that requires automatic defibrillators in schools and establishes response protocols for cardiac-related medical emergencies. The bill received unanimous, bipartisan legislative support.

The Act requires each public and nonpublic school serving grades nine through twelve to maintain an automated external defibrillator (AED) that is accessible during the school day and during all school athletic activities. Additionally, these schools must establish, review, and annually practice an athletics emergency action plan for responding to students who sustain cardiac arrests or other life-threatening injuries while participating in school athletic activities. The legislation also ensures that appropriate personnel on and off the field, including coaches, are trained in CPR and AEDs.

The Governor was joined by the National Football League, American Heart Association, and other members of the Smart Heart Sports Coalition, in addition to members of the General Assembly.

“The NFL is honored to join with our Smart Heart Sports Coalition partners and allies to celebrate the enactment of this crucial safety measure. Thanks to Governor Lee, leaders in the legislature, the Tennessee Titans, and the advocates who pushed this forward, school communities throughout the state will have the tools and training to better respond to cardiac emergencies. This is a victory for students, athletes, staff and visitors at Tennessee’s schools,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Launched in 2023, the Smart Heart Sports Coalition is made up of major sports leagues and leading health advocacy organizations. The coalition seeks to drive the nationwide adoption of evidence-based policies proven to prevent fatalities from Sudden Cardiac Arrest among high school students, including: clearly marked AEDs at or within minutes of each high school athletic venue, an emergency action plan specific to each athletic venue that is posted and regularly rehearsed, and education in CPR, including AED use, for coaches and other key personnel.