Delaware: Senate Bill 205 a lifesaver but school liability may increase

Senate Bill 205, which cleared the Senate on a 21-0 vote, requires Delaware schools to take steps to screen athletes for hidden heart conditions that can lead to sudden, frequently fatal incidents.

Also under the measure, coaches would be required to be certified to administer CPR and be trained on operating automated external defibrillators. Students and their parents also would receive information on the condition, technically known  as sudden cardiac arrest.
The condition is the No. 1 cause of death among high school athletes, striking while they’re taking part in a game or practicing.

“We have a responsibility to protect Delaware’s student athletes,” said Sen. Cloutier, who worked closely with prime sponsor Sen. Bethany Hall-Long (D-Middletown) on the bill. “All of the parties involved have worked very hard to get this right. The DIAA has done an excellent job with changing regulations internally since we passed a resolution looking at this issue last June, and I am excited these regulations  will be solidified through a bill.”

The bill is named in honor of Gracie Firestone, a three-sport, all-state athlete
at Tower Hill School, who suffered sudden cardiac arrest in her home just after  she graduated. Firestone, who now attends the University of Delaware and has an  implanted defibrillator, said it’s an honor to have the law named after her.

“This is a great honor, because I’m still here today to see this law being passed,” Firestone said.

This a copy of an E-mail I received  via DE GOP Senate updates. For sure it’s a game changer as far screening student athletes. 

3) Require each student athlete to complete a heart history questionnaire as part of the pre-participation physical examination;

After reading the actual legislation I was relieved is see the clause (3). The E-mail stated this “Delaware schools to take steps to screen athletes for hidden heart conditions that can lead to sudden, frequently fatal incidents.”

The screening is not some medical or physical administrated or the responsibility of the school. 

(2) Prior to participating in practice or competition, require each student athlete and the athlete’s parent or guardian, sign and return a sudden cardiac arrest information sheet designed by the Association;

I find it odd that all these years no such requirement was in place related to health history that included the heart. But it is very possible that schools and district ask for such information.

(4)  Hold a current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (“CPR”) certification for all school appointed head coaches, which includes training on the use of an automated external defibrillator; 

GOP E-mail said this Also under the measure, coaches would be required to be certified to administer CPR and be trained on operating automated external defibrillators. However (4) for stated “head coaches” not coaches which could be many. But surely schools and district will train all assistant coaches.

In the big picture of school sports the medical liability has increased responsibility of the schools and district. With school staff and coaches being responsible for CPR and using defibrillators and the increased responsibilities associated with concussions and traumatic brain injury, I wonder what impact it has on insurance liability rate and legal fees? What I am getting at is, as time goes whereas the school and district that on such important and complex responsibility will the legal risk factors been the beginning to the end of competitive sports? It’s not a question of what extent we go to protect the health and safety of school athletes because no price is too big to pay or is it?One error or oversight on the school, district or coaches part could be responsible for serious injury or death of a student and create million of dollars lawsuits. The financial pressures on Delaware public schools and charter schools have increased with inflation and budget cuts. Will football become more valued than AP classes? The concern has nothing to do with disapproval of this legislation which I support 100%. The concern is, where is the break-point for schools and district in regards to liability risks and cost to run school level sports programs.

One response to “Delaware: Senate Bill 205 a lifesaver but school liability may increase

  1. And who will be required to maintain these files of forms on athletes? The Coaches? No. The answer is the Athletic Trainer. The problem: Many high flying Delaware Sports programs already neglect the advice of their Athletic Trainers. Coaches practice/play kids without physicals on file whenever it appeals to them. Some coaches in popular sports see the AT as a nuicense, until they need them (a athlete is injured.)

    ATs, keep your files current and keep those emailed lists that you send to your coaches at your finger tips. You’ll need them soon enough.

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