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Codey/Beach Measure Would Help Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest Among Student Athletes

Young Athletes, Coaches & Parents Would Be Provided With Cautionary Information – Safety Procedures Would Be Established

TRENTON – Moving to protect student athletes from potentially-fatal incidents of sudden cardiac arrest, a Senate panel advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) and Senator Jim Beach (D-Burlington/Camden) that would provide young athletes, coaches and parents with preventive information and establish safety procedures for competitors who display warning signs of heart problems.

“Sudden cardiac arrest can strike quickly and tragically, sometimes taking the lives of young athletes who are active, vibrant and seemingly healthy,” said Senator Codey. “These steps will help prevent cardiac arrest during competition with educational materials and ways to detect and respond to warning signs. This could save lives.”

The bill, S-2367, entitled the “Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act,” was approved by the Senate Education Committee.

The measure would require the distribution of pamphlets that would provide student athletes, parents, coaches and other school officials with information developed by the state Department of Education about sudden cardiac arrest, its dangers, symptoms and steps to be taken when warning signs are detected. The pamphlet would have to be distributed to public and non-public schools.

Students and a parent or guardian would have to sign a form acknowledging that they have read the pamphlet before participating in a school sport. Coaches would be required to be certified in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation so that they are prepared to respond quickly to any incidents of cardiac arrest, under the bill.

“Most of the deaths from cardiac arrest among young athletes are caused by congenital anomalies that are difficult to detect, especially since the victim appears strong and healthy,” said Senator Beach. “Medical screenings alone are not always sufficient for catching cases of sudden cardiac arrest. This bill will help educate parents and coaches about the warning signs of heart problems, so that they can stay vigilant and make informed decisions about their children’s health.”

A student-athlete who exhibits symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest while participating in an athletic activity would have to be immediately removed from the activity by the team coach, according to the legislation. The bill would also provide that a student who exhibits symptoms prior to or after participation in an athletic activity would be prohibited from participating in the activity until after he or she is evaluated and receives written clearance to resume participation from a licensed physician or cardiologist.

Coaches who knowingly violate the removal-from-play standards would be subject to suspension, under terms of the bill.

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