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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee.

Athletic coaches in Florida may soon be required to take and maintain CPR training

a group of children lining up to play with footballs
Vera Nieuwenhuis
Local students participate in NFL-sponsored activities at Rock Lake Neighborhood Center leading up to the Pro Bowl football game on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, in Orlando. (AP Images for NFL/Vera Nieuwenhuis)

The proposal comes from state lawmakers who say kids and teens are too often experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

According to the American Heart Association, each year more than 356,000 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital in the United States—with 7,000 of them being young people under the age of 18.

Because of this, Florida state Senator Jay Collins, R-Tampa, proposed legislation (SB 830) Thursday that aims to bring more life-saving policies to Florida K-12 schools.

“This bill takes a remarkable step forward in making sure that when we’re not there with our kids, we can rest assured that the training does happen," Collins explained to a Senate committee on Fiscal Policy.

a man in a suit with beard, talking
Phil Sears/AP
FR170567 AP
Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, A Florida Senate Committee is forwarding a bill that would require all athletic coaches in K-12 schools to know how to use a defibrillator and be CPR certified. Senator Collins says as a parent, these things are important and could make the difference between saving a child’s life.—Tallahassee, FL (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

SB 830 calls for all coaches in Florida to be CPR-certified. The bill also specifies coaches need to know how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Sen. Collins said as a parent, these things are important.

“We have to make sure we have the time, tools, and training," he said.

Several American sporting leagues, including the National Football League, are joining the effort to promote first-aid training after Damar Hamlin, a Buffalo Bills player, needed CPR and a defibrillator mid-game to save his life last season.

medics looking at a football player on a football field. everyone is wearing grey and blue
Joshua A. Bickel/AP
FR171905 AP
Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin is examined during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cincinnati. The game has been postponed after Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin collapsed, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced. (AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

Tiffany McCaskill Henderson, who works with the American Heart Association, said that the incident gained national attention. She said it was time for Florida to get on board.

“The good news is he [Hamlin] survived because there were trained staff there," she said. That’s basically what we’re looking for in Florida schools. Just to ensure that staff is trained and have the resources they need, should that event arise.”

If SB 830 passes, schools will have to keep at least one AED on school grounds and available during every sporting event. While the state can only regulate public schools, charter, and private schools will be encouraged to do the same.

Sen. Collins said the Florida legislature is currently working on a plan to ensure each school in the state gets funding to purchase an AED.

Adrian Andrews is a multimedia journalist with WFSU Public Media. He is a Gadsden County native and a first-generation college graduate from Florida A&M University. Adrian is also a military veteran, ending his career as a Florida Army National Guard Non-Comissioned Officer.

Adrian has experience in print writing, digital content creation, documentary, and film production. He has spent the last four years on the staff of several award-winning publications such as The Famuan, Gadsden County News Corp, and Cumulus Media before joining the WFSU news team.