It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For most, the beginning of August prompts visions of school buses, chaotic activity schedules, and of course, the Staples commercial where dad is skipping down the aisle tossing supplies into his cart and counting the days until school begins.
I still have those visions, but now they are clouded by headlines, and my counting is focused on collapsing students: Poplar Bluff football players collapses during exercise drill; Burrell High football player collapses, dies at first practice; Grief at Staten Island School After Football Players Collapses and Dies; and High school student collapses and on track, dies. I’ll stop, but I could go on. There have been about twenty documented cases of students collapsing (and many dying) from sudden cardiac arrest since the beginning of August.
We can’t prevent all of these deaths, but we can do more. We are also doing better.
There are more groups around the country that are providing youth heart screenings. Recent studies conducted by Dr. Jon Drezner prove that adding an EKG exam to the traditional sport’s physical is more effective at detecting heart conditions. Simon’s Fund is proud to have funded some of this research.
Six states have now passed a version of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act. There are approximately 8,000,000 high school student athletes in this country. This means that a few hundred thousand more parents, coaches and students are aware that sudden cardiac arrest isn’t just an adult thing. They are learning the warning signs.
We are seeing more athletic trainers on the sideline. No, these aren’t people who help us get in shape.They are medical professionals who help prevent paralysis and death when things go wrong on the field. Still, under 50% of schools have one.
There are also more states mandating AEDs in schools and CPR in the curriculum. This device and procedure are the only things that can save someone who is in cardiac arrest.
For us to do a better job of protecting our kids from sudden cardiac arrest, we need to do more in these four areas. So, while we take pictures of our kids at the bus stop to capture memories and track progress, we’ll do the same in these four areas. Hopefully, in another year, we’ll see how much this effort has grown and matured, and see far fewer headlines about students collapsing and dying.