Hogan signs student athlete safety legislation in honor of late Baltimore football player Elijah Gorham – Baltimore Sun.

During a ceremony at the State House Thursday, Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law the Elijah Gorham Act, named after the Baltimore high school football player who died last year after suffering a traumatic brain injury during a game.

The law requires all middle and high schools in Maryland to develop emergency action plans for all of their athletic venues, including for the use of defibrillators, which must be a “brief walk” from an athletic practice or event, and for the use of cooling equipment for heatstroke, which must be “readily available.”

“Elijah’s family is still troubled by his death,” said James Gorham, Elijah Gorham’s father. “But he’s very, very much missed and loved, and we just want to make sure that the sports in Baltimore City and the state of Maryland are going to be safe for all children.”

The young man’s family has expressed concerns about the nearly 45 minutes he was cared for on the sideline during that fateful game on Sept. 18, before he was transported to a hospital, where he received emergency brain surgery. He died about a month later.

The family has established the 7STRONG Foundation, named after Elijah’s football jersey number. They plan to host a 7-on-7 flag football tournament focused on educating young students about safe practices.

“These young men need to know the same things that these trainers need to know, as far as hydration, concussions,” said Elijah Gorham’s mother Shantres Shaw.

“With the Elijah Gorham Act, that’s about planning ahead of time,” said Douglas Phillips, an attorney representing Shaw. “And they have to actually run it, and everybody has to sign off and say‘ I was there. We did this together. ‘”

The law requires the emergency action plans to be rehearsed in-person before the beginning of each sport’s season. It also requires all members of coaching staffs to be trained in the use of defibrillators and cold water immersion.

Phillips said staff members on the sideline may have initially believed that Gorham was suffering from heat stroke, and treated him with ice. That’s why the family feels it is important for all members of coaching staffs to receive the training, he said.

The Jordan McNair Foundation, established in honor of the 19-year-old University of Maryland football player who died in 2018 after suffering a heat stroke at a team practice, had been working on the prior bill to Gorham’s passing, and involved his family in the process after his passing, said Tonya Wilson-House, Jordan McNair’s mother and co-founder of his foundation.

“It always takes a tragedy to make things change,” Wilson-House said.

Wilson-House called the new law “dear and close to my heart,” for its focus on student athlete safety. Last year, the foundation worked to pass the Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act, which focused athlete safety on higher education, and allowed those student athletes to profit from their name and likeness, a practice that was ultimately allowed nationwide.

Now, the focus is on making sure state schools implement the law, she said.

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“It’s a pretty incredible feeling, on behalf of all of the athletic trainers in the state,” said Wes Robinson, who served as president of the Maryland Athletic Trainers Association from 2018 to 2020. “Things that we’ve felt as challenges throughout the years, like access to AEDs, has been established. ”

The law’s signing came just one day after Baltimore City’s Board of Estimates unanimously approved a $ 345,000 settlement for Gorham’s parents, which includes a series of procedural changes at city schools.

Gorham said he did not feel satisfied with the settlement, but he was looking forward to the work of the STRONG Foundation, established in his son’s memory with the help of some of the settlement funds.

“There’s no amount of money that can replace my son,” he said. “But I feel like we were being penalized for what they didn’t have in place.”

The settlement compels Baltimore City to hire athletic trainers for each one of its high schools by the 2024 to 2025 school year, in addition to a supervisor for those trainers in the Interscholastic Athletics Office.

It also calls for the city to work with the fire department to ensure quick response times to city athletic events and to increase emergency training for head coaches, assistant coaches, volunteer coaches and student athletes.

“We just want to make sports a lot safer for our children,” said James Gorham.

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