June 1, 2023
At the outset of National CPR and AED Awareness Week, the NFL today announced that it has expanded The Smart Heart Sports Coalition to 26 member organizations.
Founded in March 2023 in response to the life-saving emergency care provided to Damar Hamlin, the coalition is advocating for all 50 states to adopt evidence-based policies that will prevent fatal outcomes from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) among high school students. The coalition is made up of men’s and women’s professional sports organizations and leading medical and advocacy groups.
The latest professional sports organizations which have signed on to the coalition are the National Women’s Soccer League, Women’s National Basketball Association, Women’s Tennis Association and United States Tennis Association.
Additional new members include: American College of Cardiology, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, Heart Rhythm Society, Make Them Know Your Name, National Council of Youth Sports, National Football League Physicians Society, Parent Heart Watch, Simon’s Heart, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, and T.J. Carrie Foundation.
Since founding the coalition in March and sending letters to governors across the country, a number of states have taken action to enact one or more of the evidence-based policies proven to prevent death from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. These states include New Mexico, Kentucky, and Indiana. In addition, the coalition has engaged with policymakers in more states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, where legislatures are still in session, and have more time to adopt these policies before the next school year and athletic calendar begins. According to the Korey Stringer Institute, only seven states have all three best-practice policies in place; nine states have none. The coalition is committed to continuing to work and collaborate with health advocates, school officials, and lawmakers to ensure all 50 states have the vital safeguards needed to prevent fatal injuries and save the lives of high school athletes.
“The addition of new partners to the coalition means more action, more impact and wider reach,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Communications, Public Affairs and Policy. “We’re looking forward to building upon our initial progress and continuing to advocate for these life-saving measures at the state-level. Our clubs and league remain committed to these efforts and to student athletes across the country.”
As part of National CPR and AED Awareness Week, the NFL is activating at both the league and club levels. Later today, Commissioner Roger Goodell will address the American Heart Association CEO Roundtable, a cohort of nearly 50 Fortune 100 CEOs exclusively dedicated to improving employee and community health through evidence-based solutions, on CPR education and helping to build a nation of lifesavers. Commissioner Goodell will discuss how the NFL prioritizes safety and the importance of Emergency Action Plans.
In addition, the NFL Foundation is launching its CPR Education Grant later this month, making available $20,000 in funding to all 32 NFL clubs for CPR and AED education and equipment. This is the first step in providing more than $1 million to ensure high schools nationwide have proper training and equipment to respond to medical emergencies.
The NFL also has partnered with the American Red Cross to offer both Hands-Only CPR education and certification opportunities across all league offices in June and throughout the summer.
NFL clubs are also engaging around National CPR and AED Awareness Week. Fifteen clubs have highlighted or have plans to highlight CPR and AED education and training through events and donations in their communities. The American Heart Association is partnering with various clubs across the league to conduct Hands-Only CPR and AED education and Heartsaver certification events throughout the week. This month in Buffalo, where Damar Hamlin was recently cleared by independent physician specialists to return to football after his cardiac arrest, the Bills are hosting two large-scale community events planned to train people in Hands-Only CPR. The first of the two June events is taking place during National CPR and AED Awareness Week and has over 1,400 sign-ups so far. The Bills have also committed to a five-year partnership with the American Heart Association where the club and AHA will aim to train thousands of Western New Yorkers in Hands-Only CPR and focus on CPR education for youth sports coaches in the community. Cindy J. Chang, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, National Women’s Soccer League:
“The National Women’s Soccer League is unified with the NFL and other professional leagues, as well as other exemplary coalition members, in our strong support of the Smart Heart Sports Coalition. Advocating for the passage of these three legislative policies in all 50 states is a critical part of protecting the health and safety of all our youth.”
Bethany Donaphin, Head of Women’s National Basketball Association League Operations:
“We are proud to collaborate with our colleagues across professional sports leagues and with impactful community partners to help create a safer environment for young athletes. The WNBA fully supports measures to prevent tragedies from sudden cardiac arrest and stands with the NFL’s Smart Heart Sports Coalition.”
Kathleen Stroia, SVP Performance Health, Women’s Tennis Association:
“The WTA embraces the opportunity to join the Smart Health Sports Coalition to raise awareness, legislation and training for sudden cardiac arrest in sport.”
E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D, Head of Special Projects, United States Tennis Association:
“The USTA is excited to support this important endeavor and bring health and safety to the forefront of high school athletics through evidence-based policies and life-saving training.”
Richard Kovacs, MD, MACC, Chief Medical Officer, American College of Cardiology:
“The American College of Cardiology is putting its whole heart behind the Smart Hearts Sports Coalition to ensure young athletes are protected from sudden cardiac death” said Richard Kovacs, MD, MACC, American College of Cardiology Chief Medical Officer. “AEDs save lives and quick action from a prepared team can make the difference between a tragedy on the field and a young athlete who goes home to their family. No coach would let their team take the field without practice and a game plan to win, and the ACC believes the same applies to emergency response. The ACC is proud to join this team of organizations across sports and medicine to make real change and ensure all high schools or facilities where young people play sports are equipped to handle life-threatening heart emergencies through access to AEDs, comprehensive training and an emergency response plan. We’re not doing enough until we ensure young athletes are safe and AEDs are accessible to all.”
Marci Goolsby, MD, President, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM):
“The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine stands together with the NFL and the Smart Heart Sports Coalition in this important campaign to bring awareness and action to sudden cardiac death prevention through CPR and AED education, AED availability and emergency action planning. We have the critical responsibility as sports societies to engage with policymakers to ensure every state takes actions to protect our student-athletes and prevent fatal outcomes.”
Mark Miller, MD, President, American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM):
“Kudos and accolades to the NFL and all the coalition member organizations for taking on this incredibly critical issue. It takes a team, a coordinated effort to initiate and create sustainable change. Together, we can make a significant positive impact on athletes’ care and safety. The three best practices as outlined by the NFL are on point. AOSSM is committed to actively engaging and supporting these practices with energy and actionable plans with our coalition partners.”
Jodie L. Hurwitz, MD, FHRS, President of the Heart Rhythm Society:
“As an organization with the vision to end death and suffering due to heart rhythm disorders, the Heart Rhythm Society is proud to serve on the Smart Heart Sports Coalition to accelerate the adoption of life-saving policies for student athletes. We are frequently reminded of how critical CPR, rapid use of AEDs, and trained medical professionals are in saving lives. Together, we believe that we can make a significantly positive impact on the outcomes of student athletes who experience cardiac events.”
Cleveland Browns Denzel Ward, Founder of the Make Them Know Your Name Heart Health Foundation (MTKYN):
“I’m honored for my family and I to join alongside other tremendous partners as part of the NFL’s Smart Heart Sports Coalition. We experienced first-hand the tragedy of losing my father to sudden cardiac arrest while an AED hung untouched on the wall only 30 steps away from where he collapsed. Our MTKYN Foundation has been working tirelessly for the past 5 years to help halt heart related fatalities by providing resources and education surrounding CPR and AED’s and will continue to use our platform to aid in the mission of making sure all 50 states have laws and strategies in place to help our youth.”
Wayne B. Moss, Executive Director, National Council of Youth Sports:
“NCYS is honored to support the NFL and the Smart Heart Sports Coalition’s work,” said Wayne B. Moss, National Council of Youth Sports, Executive Director. “The measures we’re advocating for are critical to protecting youth athletes. CPR is a simple, life-saving technique that anyone can learn. An AED gives someone in cardiac arrest a second chance. An emergency action plan is critical for all organizations to ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency.”
Timothy McAdams, MD, President, NFL Physicians Society and Head Team Physician, San Francisco 49ers:
“The NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) is proud to be a part of Smart Health Sports Coalition. As NFL team doctors, we know first-hand the importance of CPR and AED training. The more people around you who know CPR the safer you’ll be. We look forward to participating in CPR and AED trainings across our NFL clubs and in towns across America.”
Martha Lopez-Anderson, Advocacy Director, Parent Heart Watch:
“Our nearly two decades-long vision to eliminate preventable deaths and disabilities from sudden cardiac arrest in youth has been reinforced by this unprecedented coalition of like-minded thought leaders driving the demand for change in school communities. Parent Heart Watch and its network of prevention champions across the nation wholeheartedly support this initiative and pledge our commitment to changing the standard of care.”
Darren Sudman, Simon’s Dad and Co-Founder of Simon’s Heart:
“There are so few instances in life where major problems have an easy solution. This is one of them. Anyone, young or old, can learn how to push on the chest of someone in cardiac arrest to keep them alive. Similarly, anyone, young or old, can turn on an automated external defibrillator, follow the prompts, and deliver a lifesaving shock, if needed. When these two things are available, lives will be saved. Period.”
Mary M. Newman, MS, President & CEO, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation:
“The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is honored to join the Smart Heart Sports Coalition in advocating for state adoption of best practice cardiac emergency policies in high school sports. We applaud the NFL for launching this lifesaving initiative, inspired by Damar Hamlin’s recent survival from sudden cardiac arrest. The effort aligns perfectly with our mission “To raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and help save lives.” We wholeheartedly support Coalition goals to advocate for emergency action plans in high schools, strategic deployment of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and CPR-AED training for coaches. Through collaboration with leading sports organizations and other nonprofit organizations, we believe many lives will be saved—not only those of students, but also those of parents, teachers and coaches.”
T.J. Carrie, NFL Legend and Founder of the TJ Carrie Foundation:
“The TJ Carrie Foundation is proud to support and promote the NFL’s advocacy campaign for the health and safety of our nation’s youth. We are committed to the health and wellbeing of student athletes across the nation through the use of evidence-based measures that will save lives. The first of many goals will be implementing Emergency Action Plans to prepare for Sudden Cardiac Arrest. I experienced a life-threatening cardiac emergency on the football field as a student-athlete in high school and will never stop advocating for safer environments and procedures that save lives.”