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State lawmaker announces plans to introduce legislation requiring AEDs at all school athletic events

"Damar's Law" is named for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, whose recent on-field collapse galvanized the nation, according to State Sen. Marty Flynn.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania lawmaker this week announced plans to introduce legislation that would require automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at all school athletic events in the Commonwealth.

In a memorandum issued Wednesday, State Sen. Marty Flynn said the sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death among student-athletes participating in practices and games.

“My legislation aims to recognize and address the increased risks of SCA amongst student-athletes by requiring that an AED be present at any sporting event hosted by a school district,” said Flynn, a Democrat from Pennsylvania's 22nd District, which includes portions of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties. 

“Additionally, all coaches would be required to complete training on the proper use of AEDs. These requirements would ensure that the most critical component to increasing survivability after SCA is addressed," Flynn continued. 

Flynn's legislation follows an on-field incident in the National Football League earlier this month when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a game with the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Hamlin is recovering after life-saving measures were initiated while he was on the field.

Flynn said his legislation, if passed, will be called "Damar's Law" in honor of Hamlin.

In his memorandum, Flynn cited a 2008 study that looked at a seven-year period from 2000 to 2006 and found that survival rates following exercise-related SCA in young people are especially poor – only 11%. 

"Notably, numerous studies have shown that the use of AEDs by trained or untrained bystanders and non-medical responders produce survival rates between 41% and 74% if used in conjunction with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) within 3 to 5 minutes of collapse," Flynn's memo said. 

According to the American Heart Association, the single greatest determinant of survival after SCA is the time frame collapse to defibrillation, with survival rates declining 7% to 10% per minute with every minute that defibrillation is delayed, Flynn's memo added.

“Damar Hamlin is a reminder that even elite athletes experience SCA," Flynn said. "His recovery has been described as 'miraculous' by many, though it is undeniable that the immediate response saved his life. 

"I encourage my colleagues to support this bill to provide our student-athletes with the same chance for a 'miracle.'" 

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