Youth cardiac arrest bill signed, honors Waukesha teen

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, March 29 signed a bill that requires the state Department of Public Instruction to work with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and two pediatric cardiologists to develop and distribute information on the nature and risks of sudden cardiac arrest at school athletic events.

The bill had been introduced in honor of Kai Lermer, a 16-year-old student athlete at Waukesha North High School who died in 2019 after going into cardiac arrest while playing basketball due to an undiagnosed heart condition.

The governor signed the bill today at Waukesha North High School, where he was joined by Lermer’s family, friends and loved ones.

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"Kai’s loss was devastating to our family, friends and the Waukesha community. We know signing AB82 into law will save countless young adults’ lives here in Wisconsin," said Mike Lermer, Kai’s father. "Sudden cardiac arrest education is the first step in preventing a similar tragedy from impacting another family and community. We are hopeful that AB82 drives parents, guardians and student athletes to get an EKG test completed prior to playing sports."

Kai Lemer never showed signs of a heart condition. However, an EKG test could have discovered the condition, which would have allowed Kai and his family to take life-saving precautions.

Kai Lermer

This bill specifically requires DPI to include information on the risks of continuing athletic activity after experiencing sudden cardiac arrest symptoms; the potential risks, benefits and evidence for EKG testing; and how to request an EKG from a student’s healthcare provider.

The information sheet would be distributed to participants in youth athletics offered to persons 12 years and older to help young people and their parents take action to understand a student’s heart health prior to participating in youth athletics, much like information that is already provided for the risk of concussions and head injuries under current law.

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Statement from Evers:

"Youth athletics play such an important role in the health, wellness, and academic success of young people across our state, but much like concussions and head injuries, it is vital that parents and students understand the risks associated and are empowered to make the best decisions for their health.

"I share my deepest condolences with the Lermer family and the entire Waukesha community. Kai was a young man full of potential who was taken from us far too soon and there are no words to express this loss. I am glad to be signing this bill today to turn this tragedy into an action that could save lives, and I commend his parents for all their hard work to raise awareness for this important issue."

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