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School district remains a beat ahead...


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Tim Stewart
Tim Stewart
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  • School district remains a beat ahead...

    Copyright 2003 The Dallas Morning News
    The Dallas Morning News

    April 10, 2003, Thursday SECOND EDITION

    SECTION: MESQUITE; Pg. 12L; DAVID McNABB [email protected]

    LENGTH: 646 words

    HEADLINE: School district remains a beat ahead;
    Defibrillators already present at one school, more could be on way


    UIL athletics director Charles Breithaupt sent an e-mail to every school two
    weeks ago urging them to have at least one defibrillator on hand. The Mesquite
    schools had been working on it before that.

    About a year ago, North Mesquite purchased an automated external
    defibrillator - a portable, four-pound device used to restore cardiac activity
    after sudden cardiac arrest. Doctors say AEDs can save lives.

    School district Director of Health Services Deborah Braden said the goal is
    to have an AED at the five high schools and E.H. Hanby and Memorial stadiums by
    the end of the year.

    "We were pretty comfortable with the need," Braden said. "We'd been
    reviewing the benefits and what we needed to do as a district and what protocol
    to establish."

    Each year, high school athletes suffer heart attacks. A study by the UIL
    Medical Advisory Committee reported that sudden cardiac arrest caused the deaths
    of 260 high school athletes nationally from 1982 to 1999. According to the
    American Heart Association, for each minute that passes without defibrillation,
    a person's chances of survival after cardiac arrest decrease seven to 10

    It wasn't a student emergency that prompted North Mesquite officials to get
    an AED. It was the death of a parent.

    At spring practice in 1998, the father of receiver Antaeus Coleman suffered
    a massive heart attack in the stands and died.

    "It's not to say an AED could have saved him," North Mesquite trainer Dennis
    Hart said. "But it got us thinking about the need for one."

    The AEDs cost $ 2,000 to $ 3,000. Part of a school district committee
    studying AEDs is considering how many the school district would buy for its
    schools and facilities.

    And with all medical decisions, school districts would like a defined
    procedure in place if there was a question of liability. The Cardiac Arrest
    Survival Act, which extends Good Samaritan protection to AED users in states
    that do not have protective legislation, was signed into law in 2000.

    The AED operator is guided by an automated system that shows how to attach
    the electro pads to the person's chest. Once the pads are attached, the device
    analyzes the heart rhythm and, if needed, advises the operator to administer the

    Doctors say AEDs are easy to use. They are commonplace in ambulances and
    many public facilities. Because of the cost and newness of use, only a handful
    of Dallas-area schools have them. Carrollton-Farmers Branch approved the
    purchase of four in March. The DISD has 11 in public buildings, and DeSoto has
    one on each campus.

    Although it's widely assumed heat plays the primary role in most high school
    athletes' deaths, autopsy reports often reveal athletes died from hypertrophic
    cardiomyopathy, or HCM.

    HCM, often referred to as an enlarged heart, is a genetic disease
    characterized by a thickening of the heart muscle in a non-uniform manner. When
    the heart is enlarged, it is more likely to develop abnormal electrical impulses
    that can result in life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias.

    Coaches and trainers are on high alert for signs that players are in danger.
    A much different attitude toward an athlete's safety has evolved during the last
    20 years. Concerns of heat and dehydration have been addressed. But doctors say
    it's nearly impossible to detect the problems that will result in a sudden
    cardiac death because the conditions needed to trigger the heart problem can't
    be sufficiently duplicated.

    That's why AEDs can be so valuable. They allow an immediate response before
    the condition worsens.

    Hart has taken instruction courses for AEDs and talked with fire department
    employees who are experienced in their use.

    He hasn't had to put his training to use yet.

    "I have been trained on it and feel confident about using it," Hart said. "I
    wouldn't hesitate to use it if the situation called for it."

    LOAD-DATE: April 15, 2003
    Thanks, Tim
    Forum Administrator

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