Prepare Your Team for a Cardiac Emergency

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February 14, 2018

By Mike Hopper, MS, ATC

As an Athletic Trainer (AT), we must maintain ongoing certification in Emergency Cardiac Care as a requirement for certification maintenance each reporting period. But have you ever noticed in a cardiac event, the emergency response team typically involves more than just one person?

During a cardiac emergency, you can expect a response from an ambulance, police officers and in many cases the fire department. This is because cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and its corresponding treatments are significant events and need the response of multiple people to treat this condition. With this in mind, ATs need to consider the advantage of having others within your healthcare team and organization trained in CPR.

In the state of Texas, our coaches are required by state law to have CPR training. State law and Texas Association for Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) and the University Interscholastic League (UIL) all mandate this training. But at my institution, Bishop Lynch High School, we’ve taken it a step further.

Currently, we have 2 full-time ATs and a full-time school nurse on staff. In addition, approximately 95 percent of our school faculty and staff are trained in CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). This includes our school president and principal to our school security staff. Every member is given the opportunity throughout the school year to receive this training and is encouraged to take advantage of it.

Why do we believe CPR and AED training is so important at our school?

On February 11, 2017, we learned how important CPR training and a cardiac emergency action plan (EAP) was to the health and safety of our school community. During our annual alumni baseball game, we had an individual collapse on the baseball field. A nurse and a nursing student came from the stands to begin CPR. Meanwhile, one of the coaches and I ran across the field to assist. Another coach went straight for the AED and handed it to a school administrator who brought the AED to the field.

As the nurse and nursing student began CPR, I prepared the AED. No shock was advised, but after multiple rounds of CPR, our patient was brought back to life. Emergency Medical Services and the fire engine arrived at the field a short time later and the man was transported to the hospital. He survived.

I believe the man is alive today because of the fast response from a team of people trained in CPR. He’s alive today because we had a plan. Our staff knew what to do and how to respond. And although the AED didn’t shock in this particular incident, we had an AED strategically placed for this very situation.

Our school is fortunate to have been provided with the resources and support to put the health and safety of our school community as a major priority. Along with our school nurse, we have a comprehensive cardiac EAP in place. This includes preparedness through training, onsite medical personnel and an AED maintenance program that details every bit of our ongoing efforts. We have 3 full-time healthcare providers on campus and 2 are currently certified by the American Heart Association as BLS Instructors. Between the school nurse and the athletic training staff, we maintain 14 AEDs, strategically placed throughout our sprawling campus. Every month each AED is visually inspected by our medical staff and verified that each AED is “Rescue Ready.”

Since 2014, we have added 7 AEDs to our inventory as our school campus has continued to grow. On a Friday night, we have as many as 5 AEDs within the stadium complex at a football game. Our athletic training staff maintains 2 portable AEDs in StatPack backpacks along with an assortment of other emergency equipment including Epi-Pens, facemask removal equipment, portable oxygen and bag valve masks.

Our school staff annually receives training on CPR and use of the AED. This was a recommendation from our faculty members. We are currently in year 2 of this training, along with an initiative that will take 4 years to complete, as we attempt to train every single student in CPR at least one time during their high school career. We are accomplishing this initiative during student health classes each semester.

Our goal is to reach a point where just about every person on our campus has the basic knowledge of how to respond in a cardiac emergency. Our teachers play an integral role in our emergency response plan, because they are likely to be the first ones on the scene. This is why we believe it’s important to train our entire staff.

As an AT, consider the advantage of implementing a cardiac emergency action program in your school or organization. Having an emergency response team trained in CRP and how to use an AED could help save a life.

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