Medical volunteer law takes effect Jan. 1

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 31-Dec-2010

State Rep. Joe Dorman wants schools to take advantage of a new law set to take effect on the first of the year.

House Bill 1658, authored by Dorman, will protect health care professionals who volunteer at school sporting events from being sued.

“Medical volunteers will be protected under the Good Samaritan Act,” Dorman, a Rush Springs Democrat, 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.”

The Oklahoma Athletic Trainers’ Association estimates that 25 percent of student athletes statewide will miss either practice or competition due to a head injury. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3.9 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur nationally each year.

Dorman said that a Portland, Ore., football player was brought back to life by a cardiac nurse who happened to be on hand when he suffered a heart attack on the 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 said schools should also 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

Dorman conducted three interim studies on other health care-related issues this year. For the 2011-12 legislative cycle, he will be serving on three key House Committees: Appropriations and Budget, Rules and Insurance.