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Florida County Considers EKG Tests for Student-Athletes

Andy Berg

A school district in Florida is considering a plan that would require heart exams for all student-athletes.

The plan, reported by the CBS affiliate in Orlando, would require all student-athletes in Brevard County to undergo EKG screenings before participating in sports.

Although 11 of the 15 public high schools in Brevard County offer voluntary cardiac screening through their athletics programs, Brevard Public doesn’t currently require or endorse the testing.

"We want to protect our student-athletes, but there are certain situations that we as a district need to work through to get there," assistant superintendent Christine Moore said.

Currently, Calhoun County School District is the only district in the state that requires heart screenings for student-athletes.

Some districts do independently arrange for the tests upon request. The nonprofit Who We Play For, which was created in memory of Rafe Maccarone, a Cocoa Beach High School soccer player who died from heart complications following practice in 2007, has worked with many schools to help administer the tests.

"Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in sports and on school campuses," said Evan Ernst, a co-founder of Who We Play For. "We've screened over 100,000 athletes and we've identified over 90 kids with life-threatening heart conditions."

Brevard County is in the process of evaluating potential legal concerns related to liability and funding, but the district is strongly recommending that student-athletes receive an EKG prior to participating in school sports.

"We're in a very precarious zone right now of protecting our kids, making sure the school board isn't at risk, but wanting to do the right thing," said school board member Cheryl McDougall. "And the right thing is for our kids to get screened."

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