BREVARD COUNTY — In an effort to keep student-athletes heart health in check, Brevard Public Schools recently announced a new policy in the making that would require electrocardiogram testing prior to winter sports.
Brevard Public Schools signed a Memorandum of Understanding with local nonprofit Who We Play For, and students can be screened for an ECG test for $20. Or, if students qualify for free or reduced lunch, students will be eligible for a free test.
“This has been in development for some time, and is still in development,” said Matt Reed, assistant superintendent for Brevard Public Schools. “The process of finalizing the policy is not done yet, there is still opportunity for parents to weigh in at a couple of school board meetings.”
According to a press release, the ECG test is designed to “help identify athletes who may be at risk for sudden death from loss of heart function” and “...may also assist with diagnosing several different heart conditions.”
Students who would be affected by this requirement are those entering grades 7-12. Athletes will be receiving an ECG Consent/Opt Out Form in their 2019-20 athletic packets. Student athletes are required to complete the ECG Consent/Opt Out Form in order to participate in the 2019-20 school year.
“While we recommend seeking these heart screenings before fall sports, it will be mandatory for winter sports,” Mr. Reed said.
Signing the ECG Consent form gives Who We Play For permission to administer an ECG test at one of several dates established in the county.
Who We Play For was created by the teammates of 15-year-old Rafe Maccarone, of Cocoa Beach High School, after Rafe passed away a day after experiencing sudden cardiac arrest during warm up for soccer practice in 2007.
Who We Play For aims to eliminate preventable sudden cardiac death in young students by providing affordable, non-invasive heart screenings.
If a student’s ECG screening comes back showing a “high risk” or need for a follow-up, they will not be allowed to participate in athletics until a physician signs a medical release declaring they are cleared to participate.
“We’ve had students collapse from sudden cardiac arrest each of the last two years,” Mr. Reed said. “It’s probably one of the most common causes of death of high school and student athletes, and the most obvious heart defects that would lead to sudden cardiac arrest are pretty easy to catch through the types of electrocardiogram tests that we’re asking students to undergo.”
Brevard Public Schools will hold a Board Workshop in July, a Board Work Session in August and will present a policy to the Board for approval in September.
Until September, Mr. Reed said he hopes to hear feedback from parents whether this policy should be expanded, or whether it’s a good idea before the final vote.
The next and final heart screening will take place from 8-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 27 at Parrish Healthcare Center, 5005 Port St. John Parkway, Suite 2100. To schedule an appointment, call (321) 433-2247.
For more information, visit www.whoweplayfor.org.