Blount County mom gets heart-saving legislation signed by governor

MARYVILLE (WATE) – A Blount County mom used her own heartache, hoping it’ll save other children. She took her mission about making schools more “heart-safe” to Nashville and on Thursday she got the governor to sign off on it.

This newest law requires teachers and students to know how to use AEDs the right way in case they ever have to use it. Rhonda Harrill says this has been nothing short of an emotional journey. The first piece of legislation she helped draft, which went before lawmakers and passed, was back in 2010.

Previous Story: Blount County mother pushing for AED drills in schools

Rhonda Harrill
Rhonda Harrill

“He had something he needed to share with the world and I was blessed for him to choose me,” said Harrill.

Her son, Tanner Lee Jameson, passed away seven years ago this June. He was just 13 years old and collapsed while playing basketball. He later died of cardiac arrhythmia.

“Nobody really cared. They thought, ‘Oh well Tanner died, that’s just a fluke.’ And that’s my son, that’s somebody else’s child and I was not going to stand for that,” said Harrill.

So she stood in front of lawmakers and on Thursday had another piece of legislation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam.

Tanner Lee Jameson
Tanner Lee Jameson

In the newest law, schools are required to have AEDs, regularly practice using those machines, and hold drills for teachers and staff on how to quickly save someone’s life when their heart gives out. Junior and senior high school students will also be trained on how to use AEDs and perform CPR.

“They will have a special code that will come across the intercom and when that code comes across, all the other teachers know to keep the kids out of the way because it is traumatic. Certain teachers will get the AED, certain ones start CPR, other ones call 911, other ones wait for the ambulance to get there,” said Harrill.

She says it’s a chance at survival for everyone, young or old.

“You can’t hurt dead. It’s better to do something than nothing.”

Harrill hopes to take similar legislation to a national level as well as wants to make a cardiac database with more information for people before it’s too late.

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