Pennsylvania’s “Damar’s Law” would make AEDs mandatory at school athletic events

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to ensure all school sporting events have the technology needed to potentially save lives.

Following the on-field cardiac arrest of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, Pennsylvania State Senator Marty Flynn (D) plans to introduce legislation mandating automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at school athletic events.

“It really woke me up and made me jump in my chair watching the game,” said Sen. Flynn.

Senator Flynn said what happened to Damar Hamlin got him thinking about student athletes. He says Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is one of the leading causes of death in student-athletes participating in practice and events.

“How do we give our children the chance that Damar had here?” he asked.

As he began to research more, he said he was shocked by what he found.

“It’s not even required for [AEDs] to be in our schools,” Senator Flynn said. “I find that very irresponsible of us.”

This is how the Law of Damar came about.

“My legislation aims to recognize and address the increased risks of sudden cardiac arrest in athletes by requiring that an AED be present at every sporting event hosted by a school district,” Senator Flynn said. “In addition, all trainers would need to complete training on the proper use of AEDs. These requirements would ensure that the most critical component to increasing post-SCA survivability is addressed.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, between 1 in 50,000 and 1 in 80,000 young athletes die from sudden cardiac arrest each year.

“Damar Hamlin is a reminder that even top athletes experience SCA. His recovery has been described by many as “miraculous”, although it is undeniable that the immediate response saved his life. I encourage my colleagues to support this bill to give our student-athletes an equal chance at a ‘miracle,'” said Senator Flynn.

Senator Flynn said the challenge now is figuring out how to pay for it, but he said some options already exist. Under an earlier law, he said, public schools and parochial schools could buy AEDs at discounted prices.

For him, it’s worth finding a way to make it work.

“It’s 1 in 50,000, 1 in 100,000, but you know you’re saving that one child’s life, it’s worth all the AEDs you have to buy,” he said.

Senator Flynn said he is still working with the state Department of Education to draft the language in the bill, but expects to roll it out within a month.