New York Governor Kathy Hochul enacted a new law on Friday, November 24th, mandating the implementation of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) plans in youth camps and sports activities, enhancing the safety of children.
The legislation, supported by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who experienced a life-threatening cardiac arrest during a game in January, stipulates that every camp, game, and practice session must have at least one person trained in the proper use of an AED.
Reflecting on his own experience, Hamlin emphasized the unforeseen nature of cardiac emergencies. “In all the years that I played football, I don’t remember thinking about where an AED was located or who was trained to use one. My journey has shown us that no one expects cardiac arrest to happen – and we all need to be prepared,” he said.
Hamlin has been actively involved in promoting cardiac emergency preparedness.
In May, he announced the use of millions of dollars raised through online fundraising campaigns after his collapse to support his nonprofit, the Chasing M’s Foundation.
Furthering his commitment, in October, Hamlin launched a new campaign through his foundation to distribute no-cost AEDs and provide CPR education.
Governor Hochul highlighted the urgency of this issue, recalling Hamlin’s incident as a wake-up call. “We all remember the terrifying moment when Damar Hamlin was injured last February, but young athletes at schools and camps could be exposed to similar risks,” Hochul stated.
She added, “By requiring camps and youth sports programs to establish an AED implementation plan, kids will be safer and teams will be prepared. I want every parent in New York to know: we’re doing everything we can to keep your kids safe.”
The new law mandates that youth sports programs and camps with five or more participating teams develop a plan for AED usage.
It also stipulates that at each event, at least one trained individual – whether an employee, volunteer, coach, umpire, or another qualified adult – must be present and capable of operating the AED.
New York State Senator Shelley Mayer, who sponsored the bill and chairs the Senate Education Committee, expressed her satisfaction with the law’s passage.
“More than 7,000 children experience cardiac emergencies each year, and too often an AED is not available. This legislation will make these programs safer and provide parents and young athletes with peace of mind,” Mayer commented.
She acknowledged the personal stories of New Yorkers like Dana Colasante and Alice Schoen, whose family members survived cardiac arrest at youth sporting events due to available AEDs, as catalysts for the legislation.
Colasante’s husband and Schoen’s son survived cardiac emergencies due to the timely availability of an AED at the sporting events, which enabled them to receive immediate care.