Taking effect July 1, 2020, the “Zachary Martin Act” unanimously passed in the Florida House and Senate to amend Florida Statutes 1006.165 (“Automated external defibrillator; user training”). This legislation revised the requirements for CPR training, the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AED), and the availability of AED machines on school grounds.
Selected provisions include:
- Each public school that is a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) must have an operational AED on the school grounds.
- The AED must be “available in a clearly marked and publicized location at each athletic contest, practice, workout, or conditioning session, including those conducted outside of the school year.”
- Beginning June 1, 2021, “a school employee or volunteer with current training in CPR and the use of a defibrillator must be present at each athletic event during and outside of the school year…Each employee or volunteer who is reasonably expected to use a defibrillator must complete this training.”
- Each employee or volunteer that is required to complete CPR training must be notified in writing of the location of each defibrillator on school grounds annually.
The law – which previously only required AEDs at FHSAA State Series games, tournaments, and meets – now mandates that AEDs must be available in a clearly marked and publicized location for every athletic contest, practice, workout, or conditioning session, including those conducted outside the school year.
Shawn Sima has been working with his daughter Lexi, a teenage cardiac arrest survivor, and others for the past three and a half years to bring about legislative change in Florida. While conducting a heart screening to detect underlying and potentially lethal cardiac conditions, Sima connected with the Chair of the Education Committee in the Florida House of Representatives who, upon meeting him and Lexi, helped champion the bill in the House. This law now protects youth where they practice, scrimmage, and compete.
“As parents we wondered why this happened to our 16 year old daughter. How can it be that our child had to get a pacemaker/defibrillator in her chest? She was an incredible athlete who appeared to be healthy as could be. Four years ago we looked at her lifeless body laying on a gym floor and wondered why? Now, four years later, we understand exactly why we went through that. God answered our why. This is a legacy bill that is going to save lives in Florida forever. To be a part of that is incredibly humbling.”
The act also covers new protections for student-athletes participating in athletics during hot weather. The new statute adds protections related to heat stress, hydration, and cooling zones, by establishing “guidelines for monitoring heat stress…levels at which a school must make a cooling zone available…”
In 2017, on a hot summer day, Zach collapsed due to exertional heat stroke while running wind sprints with his high school football team.
“Zach’s death, and other Exertional Heat Stroke (EHS) injuries and deaths, are an unnecessary result of a lack of awareness of the signs & symptoms of EHS and little knowledge on the topic of prevention and treatment.”
Zach Martin Memorial Foundation