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Keyword: cpr

By Alecia Good, MEd, ATC
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

A young athlete collapses to the ground in front of you. No trained emergency personnel are present on the scene. Would you know what to do?

As the athletic trainer at Pinewood Preparatory School, I have posted Emergency Action Plans in every sports venue. The plans include what to do, who to call, and exact locations for dispatch if there is a need to call for emergency personnel. The hope is that if an emergency should ever occur and I am not there the first responders (usually coaches), will know how to respond. Two weeks ago, these plans were put into place and the first responders were able to save a young man’s life.

One evening a few weeks ago, several alumni gathered to play pick up basketball in our gym. Around 8 pm one of the players crashed to the ground and was unresponsive with sudden cardiac arrest. The other players quickly acted to find two coaches that were in the other gym, send someone for an automated external defibrillator (AED), and call 911. Within minutes, one coach performed hands-only CPR while the other quickly attached and turned on the AED. They continued their rescue efforts until the paramedics arrived. 

Once at the ER it was reported that emergency personnel were able to regain a pulse after at least 10 to 20 minutes of the young man’s heart being stopped. The question the doctors then began to ask was what the brain function would be like because his heart was stopped for such a long duration. The doctors were comforted by the fact that early CPR and defibrillation was performed. 

After only 2 minutes without oxygen-rich blood from the heart, brain cells can start to die. After 6 minutes, brain death occurs. According to the American Heart Association, “Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S.—but when ordinary people, not just doctors and EMTs, are equipped with the skills to perform CPR, the survival rate can double, or even triple.”

The young man was placed in a medically-induced coma with a cooling therapy for a few days. After his body was brought back up to temperature and the paralytic drugs were discontinued, the young man woke and returned to normal function. He was talking and moving around and has since been discharged from the hospital. 

Early CPR to manually pump the blood to the brain and early defibrillation to shock the heart back into rhythm is without a doubt what saved this young man’s life. Had the coaches and students not acted quickly to enact the emergency action plan, this story would not have had the same happy ending. To reiterate my colleague’s blog on the importance of knowing CPR, please take the time to learn CPR and how to use an AED. Here is a link for hands-only CPR from the American Heart Association. Even if you don’t have time to take a full course, this compression only technique can save a life as it did in this situation. More importantly, know your surroundings and be willing to act in the event of an emergency. Take note of where there may be emergency equipment (AED, first aid kit) and know your location to be able to give accurate directions. Any delay in action can be the difference in the outcome of the emergency.

Guest Post by:

Kathleen Choate, ATC
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

If you found a loved one in cardiac arrest, what would you do? Sure, you know to call 911, but what do you do until EMS arrives? In these scenarios, every second counts. With every minute of no heart beat and no CPR, the chance of survival plummets. Action on your part greatly increases the chances of survival.

Often times, people who give CPR outside of the hospital do not have a medical background, and are considered laypeople. Laypeople are often teachers, coaches, and childcare providers who obtain CPR certification for their jobs.

In a perfect world, every able-bodied person would know CPR and be mentally prepared to use it. It’s important to know that delaying CPR by even a minute greatly reduces the chance of survival. The sooner you can recognize the need for CPR and start effective compressions, the greater chance the victim has to survive. If your loved one needs help at home, this means that YOU are their greatest chance of survival. This is where we are the least prepared and even unwilling to take the necessary action to save our loved one's life. Unfortunately, individuals are only 15.5 percent likely to give CPR to someone they know. (Casper, MD, Murphy, EMT-P, Weinstein, EMT-P, & Brinsfield, MD, MPH, 2003)

There are many reasons that could account for a layperson's unwillingness to initiate CPR — most of which are emotional or psychological in nature. Some reasons people don't initiate CPR are due to panic, fear of performing CPR incorrectly, fear of causing harm, fear of litigation, and fear of contracting a disease. (Coons & Guy, 2009)

With all this being said, I implore you to do two things. First, get certified in CPR and second, do some soul-searching about what might prevent you from performing CPR. This is especially important if you are alone and the victim is a loved one. Bring these concerns with you to class to discuss with the instructor, and mentally prepare yourself for these worst-case scenarios in advance.

The following are reputable sites where you can search for classes near you:

American Heart Association

American Red Cross

Works Cited:

Casper, MD, K., Murphy, EMT-P, G., Weinstein, EMT-P, C., & Brinsfield, MD, MPH, K. (2003). A Comparison of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Rates of Strangers Versus Known Bystanders. Prehospital Emergency Care, 299-302. doi:10.1080/10903120390936455

Coons, S. J., & Guy, M. C. (2009). Performing Bystander CPR for Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Behavioral Intentions Among the General Adult Population in Arizona. Resuscitation, 334-340.


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