New cardiac law inspired by Mill Creek’s Nick of Time Foundation

OLYMPIA — A newly signed law aims to ensure young athletes and their coaches are better able to recognize and respond when someone is felled by sudden cardiac arrest.

The new law calls for creation of an online educational pamphlet about sudden cardiac arrest that student athletes must review before they can participate in an athletic program. They and their parents or guardians must submit a signed form indicating they have read the material.

The law also requires coaches to complete an online course every three years and sign a certificate indicating they complied.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5083 on Friday, and it will take effect this summer.

Washington will be the seventh state with such a law, and the goal is to see it enacted nationwide, said Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, the prime sponsor of the bill.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the result of an unexpected failure of proper heart function that can occur during or immediately after exercise. It is a leading cause of death in youth athletes.

McAuliffe said she introduced it after meeting Darla Varrenti, founder of the Nick of Time Foundation in Mill Creek.

The nonprofit organization is named after Nick Varrenti, Darla’s son, who died in 2004 at 16 from sudden cardiac arrest after high school football practice. The group is focused on spreading awareness about hidden heart problems in young people.

The foundation has held sudden-cardiac-arrest awareness events and CPR classes at dozens of schools in Washington and has arranged for the screening of more than 13,000 students for heart abnormalities, according to the organization.

Under the law, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association will team up with the foundation and the University of Washington Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology to develop the online materials.

“I am a so glad we are raising awareness about this important issue,” McAuliffe said. “No family should suffer the terrible loss and heartbreak of losing a child to sudden cardiac arrest.”

SB 5083 passed by wide margins — 46-0 in the Senate and 79-18 in the House. Republican Reps. Dave Hayes of Camano Island and Elizabeth Scott of Monroe voted against the bill.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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