PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A new Rhode Island law requires defibrillators in public places for large gatherings.

The General Assembly says the legislation was signed into law Thursday.

It requires public places in Rhode Island capable of holding 300 or more people to have an automated external defibrillator and a qualified person to administer it.

Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, a Democrat, and Democratic Rep. David Bennett sponsored the bill. They say defibrillators save lives.

Bennett, a registered nurse, says more than 1,000 people in Rhode Island die from cardiac arrest annually. Goodwin says keeping defibrillators handy where big crowds gather could mean the difference between a tragedy and a life that’s saved.

The bill takes effect immediately, though the requirement won’t be effective until the health department issues related regulations.