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Smart Heart Sports Coalition driving change in Year 1

The Smart Heart Sports Coalition is making significant progress after its first full year.

The coalition was founded in March 2023 in response to the life-saving medical emergency care provided to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin after he suffered cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Smart Heart Sports Coalition continues to advocate for all 50 states to adopt policies that will prevent high school students from fatal outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest.

According to the American Heart Association, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among student athletes. There are as many as 23,000 people under the age of 18 who experience sudden cardiac arrest annually.

Given that SCA is the leading cause of sudden death among young athletes, the Smart Heart Sports Coalition advocates for the implementation of evidence-based best practice policies to prevent deaths among student athletes from sudden cardiac arrest:

  1. Provide that high schools have an athletic emergency action plan (EAP) that is venue specific, widely distributed, posted, rehearsed, and updated annually.
  2. Ensure clearly marked automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are at each athletic venue or within 1 to 3 minutes of each venue where high school practices or competitions are held.
  3. Ensure coaches receive CPR and AED training and education.

Over its first year, the Smart Heart Sports Coalition expanded from 11 founding members to nearly 40 -- some of the founding members include the NFL, MLB, MLS, NBA, NHL, American Heart Association, American Red Cross and Hamlin's Chasing M's Foundation.

The NFL Foundation has committed more than $1 million to support communities nationwide CPR education and AED access, including $20,000 for each NFL club to spend on such efforts in their communities.

There's been significant progress across the country since the Smart Heart Sports Coalition launched last year. The coalition has made significant changes and progress with new laws enacted in California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Tennessee and West Virginia.

It has also actively promoted legislation in more than 20 states since March 2023, including having former NFL legends Aeneas Williams, Torrey Smith and Delanie Walker support the cause by participating in meetings and hearings with lawmakers in Maryland, Missouri and Tennessee. Further progress lies ahead for the coalition as it continues to engage with lawmakers to ensure all 50 states have the three policies in place.

Most recently, the Smart Heart Sports Coalition was present at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. With the big game being held in the desert, the coalition was represented by the NFL, American Heart Association and Hamlin's Chasing M's Foundation to announce Hamlin's foundation donating an AED to all Nevada Title I high schools with athletic programs -- 47 schools that receive need-based federal funding.

To learn more about the coalition, visit

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