New Jersey receives first-place ranking for student athlete health and safety policies

New Jersey has been ranked first in the nation for its health and safety policies for student athletes by the Korey Stringer Institute, scoring best in four categories, including exertional heat stroke, one of the top causes of sudden death in sports.

Samantha Scarneo, vice president of sport safety at the institute, says each state is ranked based on a point system established by panels of experts in the field. New Jersey finished with the high score of 82.77 out of 100 points.

The state also ranked best in appropriate health care coverage, sudden cardiac arrest and emergency preparedness.

“Jersey is doing as much as they can to make sure that they are putting these policies in place before a kid dies,” said Scarneo.

Scarneo also praised Larry White, executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body of school athletics in the Garden State. White says education both on and off the field by coaches is key when it comes to preventing sudden death in sports.

As for dealing with athletes suffering from exertional heat stroke, Ewing High School’s Head Athletic Trainer David Csillian, who serves on the NJSIAA medical and science advisory board, suggests putting athletes in a cold water tub — not an ambulance.

“If we get them in there within 30 minutes of collapsing, their condition is 100% survivable, they will not die,” said Csillian.

But there is always room for improvement, with the study also finding that the state could do more to protect athletes when it comes to traumatic head injury.

Csillian says the goals of implementing safety policies, whether it’s related to heat acclimatization or concussions, is to ensure that no parent goes through the tragic loss of a child when it could’ve been prevented.