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    © MAXWELL MACKENZIE,COURTESY ROBERT M. GURNEY, FAIA ~ ARCHITECTS

All public and semipublic pools in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County now must have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on site, thanks to a new law signed in July. It affects 275 pools in the county, which is located on the Chesapeake Bay and home to the state capital of Annapolis.

“Connor’s Law,” as it is known, is in response to the 2006 death of Connor John-James Freed, a 5-year-old who drowned at a country club pool in that county. The pool where the tragedy occurred was equipped with a defibrillator, but it was not used because the lifeguard had never been trained on the device.

AEDs check an individual’s heart rhythm and, if needed, can send an electric shock to restart the heart, saving the person’s life. Defibrillators have been shown to increase the survival rate for submersion victims, and the Red Cross now includes education in such devices as part of its CPR training.

“The most important job of government is to protect public health and safety, and this law is a common-sense solution to save lives,” said John R. Leopold, Anne Arundel County executive. “Lifeguards are already trained to perform resuscitation and use defibrillators. We need to make sure that public pools have the equipment needed.”

The Connor Cares Foundation (www.connorcares.org), established by the boy’s mother, has donated defibrillators to pools throughout Maryland and hopes to have such devices at all public and private pools in the nation.