Baltimore County Council Adding Its Version Of "Connor's Law"

Jul 1, 2013

Five-year-old Connor Freed, whose drowning at an Anne Arundel County pool in 2006, has been the inspiration of Connor's Law, requiring as Automatic External Defibrillator, or AED, device present at pools. The Baltimore County Council is expected to pass such legislation at their meeting on Monday.
Credit courtesy of Debbie Freed

The Baltimore County Council is expected to follow other jurisdictions in adopting a law to require swimming pools and beaches to have an Automatic External Defibrillator, or AED, on site.

A final vote is expected during their meeting Monday.

The bill’s sponsor, Council Chairman Tom Quirk, said the county had placed the devices in schools, county office buildings and a number of community centers before he introduced his bill in early June.

“I’d encourage people to look at, or Google, Project Heartbeat, Baltimore County’s public access defibrillation program, aims to place AEDs in public places to train businesses, schools and other organizations how to use them,” said Quirk.

The county proposal was introduced after Governor Martin O’Malley signed the statewide version of a similar law in April. The state law covers only pools owned by county and municipal governments.  Quirk’s bill uses the Baltimore County definition of swimming pools which includes private swimming pools and beaches that are open to the public.

“We don’t want people to confuse this with a private swimming pool; meaning a swimming pool located on, for say example, private residential property under the control of a single resident,” he explained.

The state law was named for five-year-old Connor Freed who was discovered floating face down in the Crofton Country Club pool in July 2006. He died on the way to the hospital even though there was an AED, which could have helped restart his heart, at the pool.

Debbie Freed, Connor’s mother, said the pool staff had a defibrillator available, but no one knew how to use it.

“They were CPR trained, not trained on the use of a defibrillator.  So, that was terrible in my son’s case in 2006 but things have changed since then,” she said.

She has established the Connor Cares Foundation to raise money for A-E-Ds and to change laws and regulations to require training on the devices.  The organization has recently adopted overall pool safety as part of its focus.

The American Red Cross now requires lifeguards to be trained both on CPR and AED use. Jan Boehmer, with the organization’s Chesapeake Region, said the devices are essential because they are the second part of CPR.

“We need to make sure that these are readily available and that people are trained to be able to use them,” she said, adding that the machines are now available in many locations, including government buildings and shopping centers.

Anne Arundel County passed the first Connor’s law last year, followed quickly by Queen Anne’s, Montgomery and Harford counties before the General Assembly passed its law this year.

The Baltimore County bill doesn’t have a name yet, just a number. But Quirk said he has talked with several other council members about that.

“I do think we will rename bill 39-13, “Connor’s Law,” similar to what the Maryland General Assembly did, similar to other counties.”

He said county Fire Chief John Hohman will train council members on how to use an AED at the next council work session on July 30.