Oklahoma: Expansion of Good Samaritan Act

January 5, 2011

The state of Oklahoma has enacted a new law protecting health care professionals who volunteer at school athletic events from being sued, but it’s author, State Representative Joe Dorman, wants more schools to take advantage of it, explainging that House Bill 1658 will protect medical volunteers under the Good Samaritan Act.

In a statement to the press, Dorman (D – Rush Springs) said, “I have been concerned about the lack of immediate medical care available to young athletes in our state ever since the death of Justin Barney, a Rush Springs football player who died of a head injury and didn’t get the immediate care that might have made the difference. I urge all Oklahoma schools to take advantage of this new law and ask a local doctor or other health care professional to be on hand at school sporting events.”

According to the Oklahoma Athletic Trainers Association, roughly 25% of student athletes across the state will either miss practice or competition due to head injuries. Numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 3.9 million concussions caused by sports and recreation across the country every year.

Dorman pointed to a football player in Portland, OR, who was brought back to life by a cardiac nurse who happened to be nearby when he suffered a heart attack on the playing field. “She had not been recruited as a volunteer,” Dorman said. “It was just dumb luck that she happened to be at the game. If she hadn’t been, that young man might have died. I can’t stress how much of a risk we are taking with our young athletes when we fail to have immediate medical care available at sporting events.”

Dorman recommended that Oklahoma schools take advantage of a free online program called ACTive, provided by the Oregon Center for Applied Science. The program trains coaches on how to protect student athletes from concussions. Coaches and other school athletic staff members can enroll at http://activecoach.orcasinc.com.