WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The recent sudden cardiac arrest of NFL player Damar Hamlin brought increased attention to the importance of automated external defibrillators. So much so, that it caught the eye of a local state lawmaker.
An AED, as it’s called for short, was used almost immediately on Hamlin when seconds counted.
That near tragedy has inspired an idea in Harrisburg to help prevent potential tragedies at Pennsylvania school sporting events.
Sports are a part of growing up, even if it’s just playing badminton in gym class. But Dino DiMauro does more than that. He plays on the Holy Redeemer High School baseball team.
“Probably one of my biggest fears, when I pitch, is probably like getting a line drive right back at you because you don’t really know what’s going to happen,” DiMauro said.
What could happen is a serious injury like what Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered that caused him to collapse into sudden cardiac arrest. An AED helped save his life.
“He had great care and then it made me think what do we have in place with our sports in our schools,” explained Sen. Marty Flynn (D) 22nd District.
It inspired State Senator Marty Flynn to craft what would be known as “Damar’s Law.” It’s a bill that would mandate every Pennsylvania school sporting event to have an AED on-site, and require coaches to learn how to use one.
“We’re working out now the language in the bill especially football, baseball, softball where… contact sports where you know you get hit with the ball where you can be jarred and hit in the chest,” Sen. Flynn stated.
Flynn issued a recent memorandum which cited a study that looked at a seven-year period from 2000 to 2006. It found only 11% survival rates in young people following exercise-related sudden cardiac arrest.
“How could you live with yourself at night knowing that you help get these machines there. We have the technology. And Mark. It’s not an if. It’s going to happen. It happens,” Sen. Flynn told Eyewitness News.
“It’s the risk that could happen at any kind of sporting event,” said J.P. Aquilina.
Holy Redeemer High School Athletic Director J.P. Aquilina hasn’t had to use any AEDs at Royals’ school sporting events but…
“It’s important for us to be able to have hand-held ones with all of our coaches so everyone is properly equipped and for those coaches to understand how to use it properly,” Aquilina added.
And protect student-athletes in the Keystone State.
“Safety is always the number one priority so I think that would be a good idea,” DiMauro said.
The cost of the AEDs would fall to schools and school districts which currently get a discount purchase rate of less than $1,000 per unit.
Senator Flynn plans to have his bill ready to present in the house next month, which is American Heart Month.
He told me he has already garnered bipartisan support for the measure.