Sample Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Risk Management Program For Amateur Sports Organizations

Policies and Educational Awareness Training

What Is A Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?

A SCA occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating causing the victim to collapse. This cuts off blood supply to the brain and other organs. SCA is not a heart attack. Persons suffering a SCA, if not treated immediately, will die. SCA is the #2 cause of death for persons under age 25 and the #1 killer of student athletes during exercise.

Cardiac Conditions And Their Potential Consequences

  • Structural Heart Disease – whether present from birth or develops later
  • Electrical Heart Disease – problem with heart’s electrical system which controls heartbeat
  • Situational Causes – persons with normal hearts and electrical systems but which are hit in the chest (i.e. commitio cordis) or develop a heart infection

Increased Risk Factors Of SCA

  • If a biological parent, sibling, or child suddenly and unexpectedly died before age 50.
  • Specific family history of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Long QT Syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Brugada Syndrome, Arrythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD), or other rhythm problems of the heart.
  • Family members with unexplained feinting, seizures, drownings or near drownings, or car accidents.
  • Athletes with these risk factors should discuss with their family physician to see if additional testing is needed and should await feedback before proceeding with any athletic activity.

Signs And Symptoms Of SCA

  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Unexplained fainting, near fainting, or seizure
  • Repeated dizziness or lighheadedness
  • Unexplained tiredness, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Unusual fast or racing heartbeat
  • Fluttering heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  • Athletes with any of these symptoms should immediately alert an adult and discuss with their family physician to see if additional testing is needed and should await feedback before returning to activity. The coach, athletic trainer, and/or other administrators should be alerted of any diagnosed conditions.

Best Practices For Removal Of An Athlete As A Result Of Certain Events

Any youth athlete who faints, passes out, or has any other SCA symptoms before, during, or after an athletic activity MUST be removed from the activity.

Steps For Returning An Athlete To Athletic Activity

Before returning to activity, the athlete must be seen by a health care professional and a written clearance must be provided to the sports organization. The following are considered professional health care professionals under our state law (insert list).

What To Do In The Event Of A Cardiac Emergency – The Chain Of Survival

Link 1: Early recognition 

  • Collapsed and unresponsive, gasping, gurgling, snorting, labored breathing noises, or seizure like activity.
  • Access child for responsiveness. Does the child answer when you call his/her name?
  • If no, attempt to find a pulse. If no pulse is felt or if you are unsure, call any on site emergency responders for help and ask someone to dial 911 and follow dispatcher’s instructions.

Link 2: Early CPR

  • Begin CPR immediately.
  • Since on average it takes EMS 12 minutes to arrive, every minute of delay decreases the chance of survival by 10%.
  • Hands on CPR involves fast and continual two inch chest compressions, about 100 a minute.

Link 3: Early defibrillation by use of an A

  • If an AED is available, send someone to get it immediately. Turn it on, attach it to the child, and follow the simple instructions.
  • If an AED is not available, continue CPR until EMS arrives.

Link 4: Early advanced life support and cardiovascular care

  • Continue CPR until EMS arrives

Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs)

AEDs are portable, user friendly devices that automatically diagnose potentially life threatening heart rhythms and deliver an electric shock to restore normal rhythm.  Anyone can operate an AED, regardless of training. Simple instructions direct the process and AEDs are designed to only deliver a shock to victims whose hearts need to be restored to a healthy rhythm. A rescuer cannot accidentally hurt a victim with an AED.

Depending on the facility type, an AED may or may not be nearby. Many but not all schools have AEDs and some private facilities have them. Be aware of the location of any AED at your facility or at other facilities when visiting.

SCA Online Training Course (free) For Coaches, Administrators, And Game Officials

All paid and volunteer coaches, administrators, and game officials of the sports organization should complete the following video one time prior to participation:

Lindsay’s Law Coach Info

Note: if your state or governing body requires a different training course, use it instead.

CA: SCA Prevention Training

Information Fact Sheet Handouts For Coaches (optional if required by state law)

All coaches, administrators, and game officials must receive the following fact sheet on an annual basis:

Note: Insert link to your state specific fact sheet, if applicable. Otherwise review of this page will deliver similar training to a fact sheet.

CA: Coach Sports Officials SCA Face Sheet (PDF)

OH: Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Lindsay’s Law Information for the Coach (PDF)

Information Fact Sheet Handout For Athletes/Parents/Guardians (optional if required by state law)

All athletes and parents/guardians should receive the fact sheet below on an annual basis, sign, date, and return to the sports organization for retention of at least 15 years:

Note: insert link to your state specific fact sheet, if applicable.

CA:  Parent Athlete SCA Fact Sheet (PDF)

OH: Information for the Youth Athlete and Parent/Guardian (PDF)


A hard or electronic copy of this risk management program which includes policies and educational awareness training should be distributed to each coach, administrator, and other staff members prior to the start of every season. Each should acknowledge in writing (wet or electronic signature) that they have received and carefully reviewed the entire program and will comply with its terms.  The sports organization should maintain documentation on an annual basis that this risk management plan was distributed as well as the administrator and staff acknowledgements.


Information for the Youth Athlete and Parent/Guardian, Sudden Cardiac Arrest And Linday’s Law

Keep Their Heart In The Game, A Sudden Arrest Information Sheet For Athletes And Parents/Guardians