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Alabama coaches could be required to increase cardiac arrest training under new pre-filed bill

By Sean Dowling

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – A new pre-filed bill aims to protect student-athletes by increasing annual training to recognize the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest for coaches.

This is important because doctors say it is the leading cause of death on the playing field.

State Representative Jeremy Gray explains his goal is to keep students safe and have parents rest easy knowing that their children are in good hands. House Bill 45, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, would require students, parents, and coaches to indicate they understand the signs of sudden cardiac arrest before taking the field.

Representative Gray explains with proper training, we can turn tragedy into a survivable event. That is why Gray hopes coaches are willing to play ball and go through this extra training.

“But when you have the ability to lose your life, I think that’s a different aspect. I don’t think anyone goes on the field wanting to die,” Gray said.

Rep. Gray explains his pre-filed bill is all about raising awareness of this common problem.

“We have to take care of our student-athletes cause looking at the research, we thinking about 800,000 student-athletes in Alabama will be affected,” Gray said.

The bill requires each coach to receive annual training such as more CPR training and how to use an AED or an automated external defibrillator. If they don’t they will face penalties like a suspension. Representative Gray explains the potential liabilities and penalties are what is causing pushback.

Alabama Department of Public Health expert, Dr. Wes Stubblefield explains it is not just coaches who need to be aware of the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest. Dr. Stubblefield is of the opinion that all hands on deck can only be a good thing.

Especially since more than 450,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest, according to researchers at UAB.

Madison County mother, Dionne Mack tragically lost her son, Tyrell Spencer to a cardiac event over 10 years ago at the Dr. Richard Showers Rec Center in Huntsville and thinks a bill like this will help save lives.

“Most people panic when they have not been properly trained in emergency situations,” Mack said. “If you don’t act immediately, that honestly could determine the child’s survival or not. So we need to be able to prepare the coaches, the teachers, and give them all of the tools, not just the knowledge.”

Athletic directors with Madison County Schools and Huntsville City Schools could not be reached for comment on the training their coaches receive or the number of AEDs on-site in their facilities.

As for what happens next, there’s a hearing for House Bill 45 on April 5.

Alabama coaches could be required to increase cardiac arrest training under new pre-filed bill
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