Reporting Karen Anderson
BOSTON (CBS) – Luann Ellsessar describes the moment that forever changed her family’s life: “He took a blow to the chest at a period in time where his heart was beating and vulnerable.” That one hit in a JV football game sent 16-year-old Michael Ellsessar of Sutton into sudden cardiac arrest.
People tried to help but there were no defibrillators, also known as AED’s, nearby to shock Michael’s heart back into rhythm. It took 15 minutes for an ambulance to get to the field. “Michael ran out of time. Fifteen minutes is too long. And that’s how he passed,” says Michael’s dad, John Ellsessar.
In the two year’s since Michael’s death his family and friends rallied to pass Michael’s Law requiring every public school submit a plan to the state to improve the way they respond to medical emergencies. That plan must include how school officials will get emergency help in the quickest way possible anywhere on campus, make CPR and first aid training available, and pinpoint exactly where AED’s are located.
Those plans were due September 1st. But, the I-Team found halfway through the school year, 125 schools in 18 districts in Massachusetts still had not turned them in, including schools in Salem, Southbridge, and Newton.
In Newton, parents were surprised that their school had missed the deadline, “I would have thought they’d be right on top of it.” After the I-Team started asking questions, Newton finalized their plans. It was submitted to the state on February 13th.
“It’s just unimaginable why someone could not have a plan in place by now,” says State Senator Richard Moore. He points to the case of Milford hockey player Tyler Symes. Tyler was hit with a puck, his heart stopped, but an AED was within arm’s reach. Two years later, Tyler is back on the ice with his teammates.
At Michael’s high school in Sutton they’ve made it a mission to change. “You can go anywhere in our facility and access an AED within 90 seconds,” says Superintendent Ted Friend. “We became passionate after that about really having a plan in place. So, that that tragic situation would never happen again,” says school Nurse Ann Zimage who teamed up with school officials, coaches, and public emergency personnel to design Sutton’s medical emergency response plan.
Along with Newton, many schools filed their plans after the I-Team’s inquiries. That list of 125 is now down to 19. For the list of schools that missed the September deadline to file medical emergency response plans CLICK HERE.