Florida sets new standard in athletic safety with landmark legislation

Posted 3/27/24

As part of a broader initiative backed by the American Heart Association...

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Florida sets new standard in athletic safety with landmark legislation


TALLAHASSEE — In a groundbreaking move for youth athletic safety, Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially signed HB 865 Youth Athletic Activities into law, heralding a new era of health and safety protocols for young athletes across the Sunshine State. This pivotal legislation, championed by Rep. Brad Yeager (R-New Port Richey) and Sen. Jay Collins (R-Tampa) along with a distinguished team of co-sponsors, ensures ongoing CPR and AED training for athletic coaches in public schools, underscoring Florida’s commitment to the welfare of its young sports participants.

Building on the momentum of unanimous approval from both the Florida House (112 yeas; 0 nays) and Senate (39 yeas; 0 nays), HB 865 is set to be implemented starting July 1, 2024. This legislative victory marks a significant stride in Florida’s journey towards ensuring the utmost safety in youth sports environments.

“The passage of HB 865 is not just a legislative achievement; it’s a promise to our young athletes and their families that their safety is our utmost priority,” Yeager said. “This law represents a critical step forward in our ongoing effort to foster a safe and supportive environment for youth athletics throughout Florida.”

Echoing the sentiment, Tiffany McCaskill Henderson, Florida Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association, praised the collaborative effort that brought this legislation to fruition.

“This landmark law is a testament to what we can achieve when we unite for a common cause. It reinforces our dedication to preparing our coaches not just as mentors, but as lifesavers.”

As part of a broader initiative backed by the American Heart Association and the NFL’s Smart Heart Sports Coalition, this legislation aims to address the urgent need for immediate and effective response to cardiac emergencies in youth sports. The comprehensive training requirements set forth by HB 865 are expected to significantly enhance the emergency preparedness of coaches, potentially saving lives in critical moments.

Shawn Sima, a volunteer advocate whose daughter is a cardiac arrest survivor, expressed his gratitude and optimism following the bill’s passage. “Seeing HB 865 become law is a deeply personal victory for many families, including mine. It reaffirms our belief that through persistent advocacy and legislative action, we can make our youth sports programs safer for every child.”

As Florida leads the way with this pioneering legislation, Sima said he hopes other states will follow suit, recognizing the paramount importance of equipping those responsible for our youth with the knowledge and skills to act decisively in emergencies.

The American Heart Association, along with its partners and supporters, celebrates this monumental achievement and continues to advocate for policies that enhance the health and safety of communities nationwide.

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