The Dominic Murray Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, known as Dominic’s Law, takes effect on July 1, 2022. The goal of the law is to promote safe interscholastic athletics and prevent incidents of sudden cardiac arrest in student-athletes.
The law is named for Dominic Murray, a 17-year-old who collapsed and died on a Farmingdale State College basketball court in 2009.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA, is defined as the abrupt and unexpected loss of heart function. SCA can be fatal if not treated within minutes, and even with treatment death may occur. Immediate treatment is cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use of an automatic external defibrillator. All public schools must have a staff member trained in the use of CPR and AED in school and at all school athletic events.
The SCA Act requires school districts to provide information to parents/guardians of student-athletes prior to the student’s participation in any interscholastic athletics. The law also requires coaches to hold a valid certificate of completion of a first aid knowledge and skills course offered by a nationally recognized organization. The course must include instruction in recognizing signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac arrest.
Although SCA is rare — the incidence of sudden cardiac death on the playing field is 0.61 in 100,000 — there are steps parents/guardians and school personnel can take to identify students who may be at risk and help to identify students exhibiting signs or symptoms.
These signs or symptoms may be misinterpreted or disregarded by the student or others, but are an important indication that a student should be seen by a health care provider for an evaluation. Additionally, a student may have personal risk factors or family history risk factors that indicate they are potentially at increased risk for SCA and should be evaluated by a health care provider prior to participating in athletics.
The signs or symptoms of SCA are:
Fainting or seizure, especially during or right after exercise or with excitement or startled
Racing heart, palpitations, or irregular heartbeat
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or extreme fatigue with exercise
Chest pain or discomfort with exercise
Excessive shortness of breath during exercise
Excessive, unexpected fatigue during or after exercise
Preventing SCA before it happens is the best way to save a life. An Athletic Health History must be completed before each sports season for student-athletes unless a physical examination has been conducted within 30 days before the start of the season.
Both the family health history and the child’s personal history must be told to health care providers to help them know if a child is at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Children should be asked if they are having any of the symptoms listed below and tell a health care provider. Health care providers should also be told of any family history of any risk factors listed below.
Student’s Personal Risk Factors are:
Use of diet pills, performance-enhancing supplements, energy drinks, or
drugs such as cocaine, inhalants, or “recreational” drugs.
Elevated blood pressure or cholesterol
History of health care provider ordered test(s) for heart-related issues
Student’s Family History Risk Factors are:
Family history of known heart abnormalities or sudden death before 50 year of age
Family members with unexplained fainting, seizures, drowning, near drowning or car accidents before 50 years of age
Structural heart abnormality, repaired or unrepaired
Any relative diagnosed with the following conditions:
Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy
Heart rhythm problems, long or short QT interval
Catecholaminergic Ventricular Tachycardia
Marfan Syndrome- aortic rupture
Heart attack at 50 years or younger
Pacemaker or implanted cardiac defibrillator
It is imperative that students are educated on the risks and symptoms of SCA and encouraged to report any of the signs or symptoms to their coach or athletic trainer, and parent/guardian.
Any student displaying signs or symptoms of pending SCA must be immediately removed from physical activities and not resume physical activities until they have been evaluated by and received written signed authorization to resume from a licensed physician. This authorization must be kept on file in the student’s cumulative health record maintained by the school.
Please contact the State Education Department’s Office of Student Support Services for questions at or 518-486-6090.