BOSTON, Mass. – Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday signed "Michael's Law," a bill filed in response to the death of Sutton High School sophomore Michael Ellessar, who died after suffering cardiac arrest while playing football in 2010.
Senate Bill 2132, “An Act Relative to Medical Emergency Response Plans for Schools,” requires local school districts to develop efficient written medical response plans to be better prepared to respond to life-threatening emergencies.
Ellessar, 16, took a blow to the chest that stopped his heart. A state trooper on the scene performed CPR until an ambulance arrived with an AED. Had an AED been on hand, Ellsessar's life may have been saved.
“I am proud that we are honoring Michael Ellsessar’s legacy and implementing important steps to stop tragedies like this from happening again,” Patrick said.
John Ellsessar, Michael's father, spoke with pride and emotion following the ceremony.
"It's been kind of a surreal day, being with Sen. Mark Montigny, Sen. Richard Moore, Rep. Ryan Fattman in the governor's office and watching the governor sign Micheal's Bill into Michael's Law," he said.
"He presented my wife, Luann, with the pen he signed it with, and he presented us with copies of the bill in a nice Massachusetts folder. It was a great day. While it doesn't bring Michael back, hopefully it will save some parents heartache and grief that we suffered through the past year and a half.
"Without the students help, all of the work that Luann and I and all of our senator's and representatives did would have gone for naught," Ellsessar added. "On the one year anniversary of Michael's death, the students came out in force and lobbied hard all of the senators and representatives. The kids spoke passionately, put pictures on the stairs, told Mike's story and told Tyler Symes story (Symes a hockey player from Milford, suffered a similiar injury but was saved by an AED on site) and we've turned this tragedy into a triumph. But getting Mike's Bill passed into law wouldn't have happened without the kids."
Ellsessar spoke about the entire town of Sutton as well as his son stating, "every time we've had an event, the entire town has come out and supported us. It blows me away how many people my 16-year-old son touched in this town. He was an old soul, he was my hero, not just for the sports he played, he was a tremendous brother, a tremendous son and a tremendous friend. He was just an all-around wonderful kid."
Schools will now be required to implement the following steps in addition to the required multihazard evacuation plan: (1) a method for establishing a rapid communication system and protocols, (2) a list of relevant contacts, (3) a method to efficiently direct emergency medical services, (4) safety precautions for injury prevention, (5) a method of providing access to CPR and first aid training, and (6) the location of defibrillators and personnel who are trained in their use.
“Life-threatening emergencies can happen in any school at any time," Montigny said. “A medical crisis can strike students, staff or visitors and occur during class, after school or at athletic events. This bill encourages every school to develop a program which provides the tools to react to any acute medical incident. Such a program will have the potential to save the greatest number of lives. We must ensure the safety of all the members of the public, young and old alike that utilize our public schools and this legislation will accomplish that goal.”
Local districts will be required to submit their plans to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) every three years and DESE will be required to develop and biennially update a model medical emergency response plan to assist school districts in the formulation of their plans. Schools are required to conduct plan simulations at least annually and to evaluate and modify their plans as necessary. DESE will be required to submit a report to the legislature on the implementation of this initiative by July 1, 2013.
“This bill will save young lives in the future, and it's a fitting memorial tribute to a great young man, Mike Ellsessar of Sutton,” said state Sen. Richard Moore.
But the town of Sutton isn't done now that the bill is passed. On May 25 at 12:30 p.m., Sutton High School will have a program that will honor Michael Ellsessar's life. The band, which he was a part of, will play the Star Spangled Banner and a few other tunes, senators Moore and Montigny will be asked to speak and it will be a full assembly, all four classes of Sutton High, teachers, faculty, family members and invited guests.
"As soon as the assembly is done, we're going to have a nice ice cream social for everyone to honor my son," Ellsessar said. He also said, "what a way to start Memorial Day weekend, at the time we honor all of those who are no longer here, I think its a great tribute to my son."
He added one final thought, "We wanted to thank everybody for all their love and support, their generosity. Luann and I can't put into words how much we thank everyone. Central Mass has been wonderful to us and especially the town and people of Sutton. God Bless you all."