When I first received this project assignment, I was confused. Previous sports medicine projects I had worked on (Communicable Diseases and 108: Critical Response) dealt with conditions that were preventable. Communicable diseases can be prevented through cleanliness and avoiding contaminates; heat illness can be prevented through acclimation, hydration, and getting out of the heat. But sudden cardiac arrest is just that … sudden.
While some people exhibit warning signs, for many, the first and only warning sign is cardiac arrest. It seemed to me that a video course on cardiac arrest might be akin to a course on how to properly tilt the windmills. I was wrong.
While it may be impossible to prevent sudden cardiac arrest, swift treatment of the victim is crucial to survival. In fact, the survival rate is quite favorable if he or she is treated properly and treated quickly. The three primary steps in reacting to a witnessed cardiac arrest are:
- Call 9-1-1.
- Begin CPR.
- Apply an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Automated external defibrillators are required by law to be in every school in Arkansas. It was the presence of these AEDs and the quick reactions from athletic trainers that saved the lives of Max Rucker of Batesville and Grant Steed of Benton, both victims of sudden cardiac arrest. These young men, along with Gunter Garvin of Cabot, are interviewed as part of the upcoming ArkansasIDEAS course, Sudden Cardiac Arrest: When Seconds Count, which will be released Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.
In this course, we’ll hear from medical professionals about the warning signs that might indicate a heart condition, what happens during cardiac arrest, and what to do in response to the warning signs or if an athlete should go into cardiac arrest. We’ll also hear from three young athletes: Gunter Garvin of Cabot High School, who was discovered to have a heart condition through a routine physical required to play high school sports; Max Rucker, a Batesville High School football player who collapsed from cardiac arrest during practice in 2014; and Grant Steed, a Benton baseball player, who, like Max, had a sudden cardiac arrest during practice. Finally, we’ll see two scenarios acted out to demonstrate what to do if 1) warning signs are exhibited, or 2) an athlete experiences sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac arrest is very rare, but it remains the biggest cause of sudden death in athletics. Arkansas scholastic coaches are now required by law to receive training on sudden cardiac arrest before the start of the 2019 school year. Sudden Cardiac Arrest: When Seconds Count will be available at ideas.aetn.org in January 2019 for coaches to receive this training.
Being a part of this video course has been eye-opening and rewarding. I’m proud to be a part of a project that can potentially save lives.