Obituary: Governor Lee Enacts The Smart Heart Act 2024

Tennessee Governor Lee Enacts Smart Heart Act for School Safety

Tennessee Governor Lee Enacts Smart Heart Act for School Safety

Bipartisan Support for Life-Saving Legislation

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has signed the Smart Heart Act into law, a comprehensive measure that aims to enhance school safety and preparedness for cardiac emergencies. The legislation requires schools to have automatic defibrillators (AEDs) on hand and establish response protocols.

The Smart Heart Act garnered unanimous support from the Tennessee General Assembly, reflecting the bipartisan commitment to protecting students’ well-being.

Key Provisions of the Smart Heart Act

  • Requires all public and nonpublic schools serving grades nine through twelve to maintain an automated external defibrillator (AED) that is accessible during school hours and at all athletic activities.
  • Establishes and mandates the review and annual practice of an athletics emergency action plan for responding to cardiac arrests and life-threatening injuries during school athletic events.
  • Ensures appropriate on- and off-field personnel, including coaches, are trained in CPR and AED use.

Praise from Stakeholders

Governor Lee emphasized the importance of student safety, stating, “Nothing is more important than keeping our students healthy and safe, and the Smart Heart Act ensures schools will be ready to respond in the event of a cardiac-related emergency.”

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) commended the General Assembly for its commitment to students, saying, “This bill ensures that schools will have the training and tools necessary to respond quickly and efficiently to a cardiac event.”

Other supporters included the National Football League (NFL), American Heart Association, and Smart Heart Sports Coalition members:

  • “This law equips all public schools in Tennessee to respond to a cardiac emergency anywhere on school grounds within minutes with trained staffed, maintained AEDs, and in coordination with the local EMS,” said Sarah Adair of the American Heart Association.
  • “The NFL is honored to join with our Smart Heart Sports Coalition partners and allies to celebrate the enactment of this crucial safety measure,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Smart Heart Sports Coalition

The Smart Heart Sports Coalition, launched in 2023, advocates for evidence-based policies to prevent sudden cardiac arrest fatalities among high school students. The coalition’s goals include:

  • Clearly marked AEDs at or within minutes of each high school athletic venue
  • Emergency action plans specific to each athletic venue, posted and regularly rehearsed
  • Education in CPR and AED use for coaches and key personnel


The Smart Heart Act represents a significant step forward in protecting the health and well-being of Tennessee students. By ensuring access to AEDs and establishing response protocols, schools will be better equipped to handle cardiac emergencies. The legislation is a testament to the bipartisan commitment to school safety and the value placed on the lives of Tennessee children.