State Stories


Anyone Can Save a Life: IHSA & NFHS Encourage Schools To Implement Program

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The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is working to assist high schools in their medical-response planning for high school practices and events by recommending all IHSA member schools implement the Anyone Can Save A Life (ACSL) program.

Developed in 2008 by the Minnesota State High School League and Medtronic Philanthropy, “Anyone Can Save a Life” is a first-of-its kind, emergency action planning and training program for after-school practices and events. It is designed to provide a coordinated team response to every major medical emergency, including sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) – the leading cause of death of young athletes in the United States.

“This program is about empowering schools in the name of student safety,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “The IHSA will be providing schools with the instructional resources they need to implement the Anyone Can Save A Life program later this week. We hope it is a call to action for schools to implement a new emergency action plan, or to review and supplement their current plans.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) announced recently at its 2015 Annual Summer Meeting in New Orleans that it is encouraging every high school in the country that does not have an existing emergency action plan in place to prepare its teams to utilize the emergency action planning program.

“The reality is that every day we send thousands of students out to fields and gyms for practice and events where there is a lack of systemic support for emergencies,” said Jody Redman, associate director of the Minnesota State High School league (MSHSL) and co-developer of the program. “One coach cannot provide a coordinated response alone. This program empowers students to be a part of the response which increases the speed and effectiveness of response until emergency services can arrive.”

Originally created to respond to cardiac arrest, this third version of “Anyone Can Save A Life” covers all medical emergencies, providing a turnkey solution for every school wishing to implement an emergency action plan for after-school practices and events.

“If you are prepared to respond to Sudden Cardiac Arrest, a deadly condition, you are better prepared to respond to every emergency,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. “We are encouraging all athletic administrators, appropriate health-care professionals and coaches to take the time during their season to implement the plan. It only takes a few minutes, and we have seen that these actions can save lives.”

After successful pilots in Minnesota, Arizona, New York and Washington, the NFHS Foundation provided funding to expand the scope of this program to distribute training guides nationally to its member state associations and their member schools. “Anyone Can Save A Life” training materials are available at no cost at

Using the program guide, coaches assign specific “emergency response” roles to students on every team at every level. If a student suffers a serious injury, or life-threatening event, teammates immediately spring into action with the information they need to call 911, assist with CPR and retrieve the automated external defibrillator.

“This training will not only make our kids safer at school,” said Joan Mellor, Sr. Portfolio Lead at Medtronic Philanthropy and co-developer of the program, “it will provide them life-saving skills that will benefit the entire community.”