Copyright 2003 The Dallas Morning News
The Dallas Morning News

July 22, 2003, Tuesday SECOND EDITION


LENGTH: 1049 words

HEADLINE: Heart-start gear wins favor of area schools;
Growing number of districts buying device to help avert tragedy

SOURCE: Staff Writer



Since the deaths of two Texas high school football players after sudden
cardiac arrest in August 2001, school district officials around the state have
tried to keep tragedy from striking again.

A growing number of area school districts are purchasing automated external
defibrillators, or AEDs, lightweight portable devices used to restore heart
function after sudden cardiac arrest. Doctors say the devices can save lives.

Gary Childress, athletic director at Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent
School District, said orders are in for five AEDs. The devices will be placed at
Standridge Stadium and each of the four high schools in the district -
Creekview, R.L. Turner, Newman Smith and newly opened Ranchview.

"I think it's part of a trend not only in school districts but in our
society today," Mr. Childress said. "I think we're going to see more and more of
them on the walls at arenas, malls and so forth. I think they've definitely been
proven to save lives."

Other school districts that recently purchased AEDs include McKinney and
Garland. Mesquite and Lewisville bought the devices in recent years. Plano,
Richardson, Irving, Grand Prairie and Dallas are among school districts weighing
the issue.

The Carrollton-Farmers Branch district purchased AEDs from the Carrollton
Fire Department. Mr. Childress said a heart attack suffered by the father of a
football coach helped prompt the district to buy the devices, which cost $ 2,000
to $ 3,000 each.

Carrollton Creekview football coach Garry Monty said he supported the
decision to purchase the equipment. When his father, Robert, suffered a heart
attack in the stands during a game two years ago, he was fortunate that
paramedics were on hand with a defibrillator.

Robert Monty developed complications and died after seven months in the
hospital. But the Creekview coach says he'll always remember the additional time
with his father.

"We saw each other every day," Mr. Monty said. "Some days, he didn't know I
was there. Notwithstanding that, those defibrillators gave him a second chance."

Sudden cardiac arrest kills about one in 200,000 high school athletes per
academic year, according to the University Interscholastic League's medical
advisory committee.

A common cause

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - or HCM, often referred to as an enlarged heart
- is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. In August
2001, HCM led to cardiac arrhythmias that struck down two Texas high school
football players: Luling's Steven Taylor and Houston Lamar's Leonard Carter II.

UIL Athletic Director Charles Breithaupt said there have been five
heart-related deaths in UIL sports since 1992. In March, Mr. Breithaupt sent an
e-mail to every school urging them to have at least one defibrillator on hand
based on a recommendation from the UIL's medical advisory committee.

"I think we're at a time now where you have to be prepared," Mr. Breithaupt

According to the American Heart Association, a person's chance of survival
after sudden cardiac arrest decrease 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute
that passes without defibrillation.

Although using an AED can seem daunting, technological advances make
operating a defibrillator relatively simple, even for those who have not had
training, Mesquite athletic trainer Bucky Taylor said. The machine delivers oral
commands for each step of the process.

Mesquite ISD became one of the districts in the area to purchase AEDs three
years ago, Mr. Taylor said. The district has 14, including those at E.H. Hanby
Stadium and Memorial Stadium, he said.

The devices can be kept on hand at practices and games. The Mesquite
district, like many others, does not have paramedics at games because emergency
help could arrive within minutes from nearby firehouses, officials said.

In 1998, the father of North Mesquite receiver Antaeus Coleman suffered a
heart attack in the stands at a spring practice and died. North Mesquite coaches
had begun CPR right away.

"That was a devastating blow to our team and our coaching staff to have that
happen in a stadium environment," said Dennis Hart, North Mesquite's athletic
trainer. "That could happen on any Friday night. That's when I began asking
questions and making proposals" about buying AEDs.

The UIL requires that head coaches and directors of league activities, such
as band directors, be certified in CPR and first aid. The Carrollton-Farmers
Branch district has taken that mandate a step further.

The district's athletic trainers are certified to teach instruction in CPR
and AED use. And all high school coaches and directors of UIL activities in the
district will soon be certified in CPR and AED use, Creekview athletic trainer
Rob Sundquist said.

For all the potential benefits of having the devices, some administrators
around the area are cautious. Phil Francis, athletic trainer at the Dallas
district, said acquiring AEDs has been discussed in the district. But he said
the district has concerns with liability and the cost of acquiring enough
devices for the district's 21 high schools.

'Kind of leery'

Bob Dubey, Richardson athletic director, said his district had not purchased

"I'm kind of leery of the situation," Mr. Dubey said. "I don't know where we
'd get them from or who to put in charge of them. ... RISD is waiting to see
what the trend is with them, and then we'll evaluate what we're going to do."

Mr. Breithaupt said schools could acquire AEDs free through a company called
The Leading Edge, based in Severna Park, Md. The company offers AEDs to schools
in exchange for advertising. Mr. Breithaupt said he sent that information out to
schools, but many athletic officials said they weren't aware of the program.

Garland athletic director Homer B. Johnson said his district purchased nine
defibrillators in the spring, one for each of the seven high schools and the
district's two football stadiums.

The McKinney district recently purchased two AEDs and will have them in
place for the upcoming school year at McKinney High and McKinney North. There
are plans to purchase more defibrillators.

"It's the wise thing to do," McKinney athletic director Rusty Dowling said.

E-mail [email protected]

GRAPHIC: PHOTO(S): Mesquite High School trainer Bucky Taylor sas having the
defibrillator gives you another tool in your belt," Mr. Taylor says the district
now has 14 of the automatic defibrillators. CHART(S): 1. DEFIBRILLATORS IN NORTH

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