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Gov. Inslee signs bill for teen sudden cardiac awareness

Gov. Inslee signs bill for teen sudden cardiac awareness

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Awareness for teen sudden cardiac arrests just got a big boost.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday signed Senate Bill 5083, which will require public schools to educate teen athletes and their parents about sudden cardiac arrest and its warning signs.

Mark Morris High School senior Spencer Best, who testified for the bill in January, said he hopes the new law will inform more students about teen cardiac arrest, just as the Zackery Lystedt Law did for concussions in youth sports.

“Concussions are pretty well known in high school sports. We’re trying to get sudden cardiac arrest awareness the same kind of attention,” Best, 18, said Monday. “We’re really excited. This (law) is a baseline we can work off.”

About 300,000 Americans, mostly adults, die each year of sudden cardiac arrest, which occurs when blood flowing to a portion of the heart is blocked, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. Cardiac arrests rarely occur in teens, but teen athletes with hidden heart problems are more vulnerable.

Best was one of the rare survival cases. He collapsed during basketball practice during his sophomore year and was revived almost immediately, with his coach and a parent using CPR and a heart defibrillator.

Since then, Best and his family have tried raising awareness locally with Spencer’s HeartStrong Foundation.

The foundation has detected underlying heart conditions in at least nine teens at their annual teen heart screenings. It also has raised more than $40,000 to place defibrillators in schools across Cowlitz County.

The new law will make education about the issue nearly mandatory, with districts providing online pamphlets with information about sudden cardiac arrest to student athletes, their parents and coaches. School districts also would have to hold informational meetings for students, parents, coaches, athletic trainers and school officials at the beginning of each school year.

Private nonprofit organizations using school property must have a written statement of compliance with sudden cardiac awareness policies.

Coaches also will have to complete an online prevention program and be recertified every three years.

Best said the law will help prevent tragedies striking any more student athletes.

“We’ll be saving lives instead of seeing the sad stories (in the news),” he said.

Contact Daily News reporter Lyxan Toledanes at 360-577-2586 or ltoledanes@tdn.com.

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