Deeming it a Super Bowl 55 “legacy gift,” the Bucs and NFL announced Monday the donation of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to every public high school in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
The portable defibrillators are designed to treat people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. Florida Statute 1006.165 requires Florida High School Athletic Association member schools to have an operational AED on school grounds in a clearly marked location for each contest, practice, workout or conditioning session.
The equipment is being delivered to the schools this week, coinciding with the start of flag football season. The Bucs sponsored a preseason flag football classic last week featuring nearly 50 teams from 13 counties.
“Providing the proper equipment and tools that keep student-athletes safe is critical to their development and well-being,” Bucs co-owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz said in a statement released by the team.
“We’re proud that these defibrillators will play a significant and much-needed role in that process as we continue to support our youngest generation by fostering opportunities for healthy competition.”
The necessity of such equipment has been reinforced by local tragedy. In June 2019, Middleton High freshman Hezekiah B. Walters collapsed on the school’s football field after the team had completed 30-40 minutes of drills, and later was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
On the one-year anniversary of Walters’ death, the school district announced a sprawling set of safety measures and protocols to prevent heat-related tragedies in the future.
Hillsborough County athletic director Lanness Robinson said the donation of the devices — each of which costs between $1,200-$1,500 — will provide an extra one to each of his schools and save the school district money in the long term.
“All (Pinellas) high schools will now have at least three AEDs, some four,” Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett said. “Very generous contribution.”
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls