Heat-related illness is one of the leading causes of death in high school student-athletes. While some states have policies in place intended to protect student-athletes and to mitigate the risk, Connecticut — home of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut — is not one of them, at least not yet.
According to Gametime CT, Connecticut lawmakers are considering House Bill No. 5431, which would rewrite concussion legislation passed in 2010 and 2014 to include sections that would mandate heat-related illness training for coaches and student-athletes. It would require coaches to complete a course in managing heat-related illnesses, and would provide training on recognizing symptoms. According to Gametime CT, anyone with a coaching permit provided by the State Board of Education would be required to complete the course prior to the start of their season. It would also require training to be reviewed on an annual basis, similar to the way concussion training is handled now.
“Coaches play an important role in helping prevent exertional heat illnesses because they can structure their practices and workouts in ways that can reduce risk,” Christianne Eason, vice president of sport safety at the Korey Stringer Institute, told Gametime CT. “It’s also important that coaches are educated on the typical signs and symptoms associated with exertional heat stroke so they could recognize when an athlete is in distress and activate their emergency action plan to help ensure the athlete receives appropriate care. Sadly, exertional heat stroke is one of the leading causes of death in sport. If coaches are educated in strategies to help prevent incidence of exertional heat stroke, it can go a long way in mitigating the risk of catastrophic injury/illness and death.”
The Korey Stringer Institute ranks states by the quality of their high school sports safety policies. According to the 2019 rankings, Connecticut came in at 38th. The states with the best-ranked sports safety policies according to KSI are New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia.
HB 5431 is currently in committee.