Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sudden Cardiac Death Preparedness in School Athletic Programs

Despite these new guidelines published in the April issue of the journal Heart Rhythm that addresses preparedness for cardiac arrest in high school and college athletic programs, many schools still have no automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) on site. But the guideline's lead author, Dr. Jonathan Drezner (University of Washington, Seattle), makes an important point on
"Many schools are acquiring defibrillators through donations, and while that's not a bad thing, it's solving only half the problem," said Drezner. "You have the equipment, but do you have the plan that goes with it? If the defibrillator is kept in the nurses' office in a locked cabinet, it doesn't really do you much good if a player has a cardiac arrest on the football field or the basketball court."

After communication, personnel, and equipment, the emergency action plan must be ready to work smoothly when the situation arises. "This is something that has to be practiced," emphasized Drezner. "You have to get your likely first responders, your athletic trainers, your team physicians, your school nurses, coaches, and administrators, and bring them out to the practice field and simulate a cardiac arrest. Go over that emergency practice plan, and go over it at least once a year."
But why stop with high schools and colleges? In my view, elementary schools should have a similar plan and equipment in place.

It just makes sense for our kids.


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