OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Getting medical care to injured school athletes can mean the difference between life and death. The Oklahoma Legislature is in the process of taking action to make sure a plan is in place for medical attention.
A bill called Riley’s Rule is making its way through the Oklahoma Legislature. It would make sure school officials are prepared when kids take the field.
“It was really hard to believe that something that our boys do every day could be the end of my brothers life,” said Natalie Boatwright.
In 2019, she got a call that her 13-year-old brother Riley had been hurt during a junior high football game. Riley went down on the field, suffering a traumatic brain injury. Medical help was not immediate.
“It took them somewhere between 45 to 30 minutes to get them to a hospital three miles away,” said Boatwright.
Riley passed away at a hospital hours later.
“I’m pretty confident that if medical care would have been quicker, then we definitely would have had a better chance,” said Boatwright.
But positive steps are being taken by the Oklahoma Legislature to try to avoid this in the future.
“Riley’s Rule or HB1801 is a measure to insure that there is an emergency plan in place at school sites when there are athletic events,” said Senator Brenda Stanley.
The Republican from Midwest City along with Representative Sherrie Conley authored the bill. They say that the plan includes maps, job assignments, lists of available medical equipment, location of the nearest defibrillator. It must be posted on the school website and must be rehearsed by school officials and coaches before their seasons start.
“This is so needed for our children and our safety,” said Stanley.
Riley was reportedly one of five students, nationwide, that died playing football in 2019.
“Devastating. Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” said Jim Webb.
Webb’s son passed away just weeks before Riley at a football game in Yukon. He says medical care was immediate for Peter, but…
“There would be a lot more opportunity for better outcomes if folks could get medical care to them right away,” said Webb.
The Boatwright Family is happy that Riley’s memory has led to positive change.
“We just never want another family to do through what we have been through,” said Boatwright.
The bill doesn’t mandate an ambulance at all games, but lawmakers hope it will push school officials to do that when possible. The bill is expected to pass easily thru the House on Thursday, then it would be up to Gov. Kevin Stitt to sign it into law.