SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee) to establish a free Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) screening program for kids in grades five through 12 was approved on a bipartisan vote by the Senate Education Committee.
Specifically, Jones’s Senate Bill 1135 would require the State Department of Education (SDE) to establish a California Youth Cardiac Screening Pilot Program for the next three school years and allow any California school (public or private) to volunteer to be part of the program. The SDE would contract with a nonprofit organization to run the SCA screening pilot program and provide data at the end of the three years for evaluation by the state.
“Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death of student athletes with an estimated 23,000 children under 18 lost each year in the US,” stated Senator Brian W. Jones. “SB 1135 establishes a pilot program to screen children for SCA conveniently in their school setting. These screenings will deliver a potentially life-saving service and give access to critical care before tragedy strikes.”
During a SCA, heart function ceases – abruptly and without warning. When this occurs, the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the rest of the body. Without immediate bystander intervention such as CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and use of an AED (Automated external defibrillator), the survival rate is as low as 10 percent. The most common cause of SCA is a disturbance in the heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), which can be detected ahead of time through use of an ECG (electrocardiogram) during a screening.
SB 1135 is sponsored by the Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation, named in the memory of Eric Paredes, a healthy Steele Canyon High School sophomore athlete who died suddenly and unexpectedly from SCA in 2009. His parents, Hector Paredes and Rhina Paredes-Greeson, established the foundation to honor him through their commitment to prevent this tragedy from happening to other families. In San Diego, Eric’s legacy has compelled the foundation to provide thousands of free heart screenings, place hundreds of AEDs in youth communities, and advance awareness about SCA.
“The underpinning of this initiative is the fact that about half of youth stricken by sudden cardiac arrest had no warning signs or family risk factors that would’ve triggered diagnostic follow-up to identify their heart condition before tragedy struck,” said Rhina Paredes-Greeson and Hector Paredes. “The pilot is meant to provide a life-saving service to California youth while collecting the data necessary to continue to evolve the standard of care.”
Supporters of SB 1135 include the Association of California Healthcare Districts; Avive Solutions, Inc.; Grossmont Healthcare District; Heartfelt Help Foundation; Heartshield Project; Just1mike; Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation; Kyle J. Taylor Foundation; Madison Middle School; Scripps Health; Sidelined USA; Southwest Sports Wellness Foundation; Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes Foundation; Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation; and Via Heart Project.
You can learn more about SCA by clicking here.
Senator Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) is the Principal Coauthor of SB 1135. This measure will now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee for hearing.