Bill would require defibrillators at athletic events

Bill would require defibrillators at athletic events

(Calif.) Legislation aimed at improving California’s poor record in protecting student athletes from sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA, won passage Wednesday from a legislative policy committee.

AB 2009 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, would require school districts and charters that participate in interscholastic athletics to have at least one automatic external defibrillator, or AED, at each school site.

The bill also calls on districts to have a written emergency action plan that directs the use of the ADE, and to have adopted policies that protect coaches or trainers from liability for using the life-saving tool.

“Although SCA can occur at any time, vigorous exercise appears to act as a trigger, making SCA more common during athletic practices and games,” Maienschein said in a statement. “SCA is the leading cause of death in athletes during exercise and usually results from intrinsic cardiac conditions that are triggered by vigorous exercise.

“If automated external defibrillators are more readily available for authorized personnel to use, the lives of more student athletes and spectators will be saved,” he said.

His bill was approved on consent by the Assembly Education Committee Wednesday.

Sudden cardiac arrest, also known as simply cardiac arrest, causes more than 350,000 deaths every year, and while it is largely an issue for older adults, the syndrome is also among the leading causes of death among young athletes.

According to the bill’s author, 42 young athletes in California died while engaged in physical activity between 2009 and 2011, and among those cases where a cause of death was released, 68 percent were attributed to sudden cardiac arrest.

A 2017 study from the University of Connecticut's Korey Stringer Institute found that California ranks last in the country in the regulation of student athletics as it relates to preventable death.

Maienschein said that while almost every coach in California has been trained to use the AED, only about 75 percent of high schools have the machines.

He said the chances of survival are close to 90 percent if a deliberator is used within the first minute of collapse. After that, chances of surviving rapidly decline.

Although the fiscal impact of the bill was not included in the staff analysis, expectations are that, if adopted, the state requirement will also become a state mandate that the Legislature will have to pay for.

The American Heart Association already has a recommended protocol for schools to create a cardiac emergency response plan:

  • Identification of one or more cardiac emergency response teams trained to respond quickly in case of medical emergencies;
  • Strategic placement and routine maintenance of AEDs, ideally to ensure that an AED is readily accessible so that a rescuer can retrieve it and deliver a shock within three minutes of collapse;
  • Dissemination of the plan throughout the school campus;
  • Ongoing staff training in CPR and AED use;
  • Regular drills throughout the school year to ensure school staff are prepared to respond to medical emergencies;
  • Working with local emergency responders to ensure the plan is integrated into community emergency response protocols; and
  • Annual review and evaluation of the plan.

At this point, AB 2009 has the support of the California Athletic Trainers Association and the California State PTA. There is no formal opposition.

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