FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Joe Dorman
Capitol: (405) 557-7305
House Passes Dorman Legislation to Keep Student Athletes Safe
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation that would improve emergency medical assistance for student athletes was passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives today.
House Bill 1658, by state Rep. Joe Dorman, would place health care service providers volunteering their services at secondary school activities under the Good Samaritan Act. The legislation was in response to the death of Justin Barney, a freshman football player from Rush Springs who died from an injury at a game two years ago. The bill would allow chiropractors, podiatrists, dentists, allopathic and osteopathic physicians, physician assistants, optometrists, and nurses (advance practice, registered and practical) to volunteer their services within their specific scope of practice.
“Justin Barney’s death was a tragedy that might have been prevented had some form of immediate medical assistance been available to prevent complications from his injury,” Dorman said. “It took 20 minutes for an ambulance to reach the scene. My legislation would expand legal protections for those who could provide immediate care in such an emergency.”
The bill will have no impact on the state budget, but will reduce the potential for money spent on individual health concerns, Dorman said.
“This originally included a tax credit to provide incentives for medical personnel to volunteer services, but we just could not add that in this year,” Dorman said. “In a tight budget year, it is the type of change to state law we can make with no cost, but still improve public safety. I hope to look at credits in the future to increase participation and eventually have some medical professional cover every single secondary sports event in Oklahoma in the future at no additional cost to schools.”
Heather Nottingham, aunt to Justin Barney and his legal guardian at the time of his death, said she was pleased by the passage of the legislation.
“I can’t thank you enough for the work you have done and continue to do in Justin’s memory,” Nottingham said. “I truly feel that this bill will help incentivize doctors to volunteer services that will one day save the life of someone’s child. My goal is that we never have to see another family suffer the loss of a child in high school sports, which might have been prevented.”
According to a recent article on www.newsok.com, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are some 300,000 sports-related concussions each year in America – a number similar to the total number of concussions suffered by service members in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of the war.
“In Oklahoma , we do not have enough ambulances to cover every Tuesday or Friday night football game in the state,” Dorman said. “If this will encourage doctors to work with a school and provide assistance in the case of an emergency, this will go a long ways to assisting immediate care and treatment of an injury and reduce potential health problems.”
The bill passed 92-5 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.