NATA Recommends AEDs in Schools to Help Save Lives

Leading Health-Care Organization Believes On-Site AEDs Are Essential In Treating Children and Adults for Sudden Cardiac Arrest

ORLANDO, Fla., February 27 - Up to 450,000 Americans each year, including 7,000 children, lose their lives to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), reports the American Heart Association (AHA). Without warning, SCA is caused by ventricular fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm. Young people suffer the highest incidence of SCA while playing sports. Without defibrillation (a pulse of electricity delivered to the heart) within 3-5 minutes, very few people can survive. Thanks to the availability of small, portable devices known as automated external defibrillators (AEDs), survival rates can jump from less than 5 percent to nearly 70 percent. Because AEDs have been proven to be so successful in saving lives, The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) has issued an official statement to its 30,000 members encouraging their use. "NATA strongly believes the treatment of SCA is a priority," says NATA president Julie Max, MEd, ATC. "We urge all certified athletic trainers to include an AED program as part of their emergency action plan when treating children and adults for SCAs in schools and in all work settings. "This lifesaving matter will be among the important issues NATA will focus on while participating at the National Association of Secondary School Principals Convention in Orlando Feb. 27-March 1, as well as throughout March - 'National Athletic Training Month.'" During March, certified athletic trainers (ATCs) across the country will offer their communities special outreach programs that will focus on the theme: "Injury Treatment: Early Care Speeds Recovery." More than 30 percent of American high schools employ ATCs, mostly in urban and suburban school districts. ATCs are often the secondary school employees who are responsible for providing emergency care throughout the school day, during extracurricular activities, after hours and on weekends when parents and other visitors may attend sporting events, meetings and productions. Recognized as allied health care professionals by the American Medical Association, ATCs specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur on the school premises. On an average day, as much as 20 percent of the combined U.S. adult and child population can be found in schools, says the AHA. "AEDs belong in as many schools as possible, as part of an effective emergency response plan that includes first aid treatment and CPR," says NATA's Julie Max. "The newest generation of AEDs, such as the LIFEPAK CR Plus AED from Medtronic, are fully automatic and easy to use." In more than 8,300 American junior and senior high schools, LIFEPAK AEDs are now standard equipment, according to Medtronic Physio-Control, the pioneer and global leader in defibrillation technology. In some states and communities, such as New York, schools are required to have AEDs on their premises. Pennsylvania provides state funding for AEDs in schools and other states are considering similar measures. "Having these devices available increases the chances of saving more lives," says Robert White, president of Medtronic Physio-Control. In 2000, Sean Shipler, a 14-year-old student in Sammamish, Wash., suffered a SCA while running in physical education class. He survived, thanks to CPR and defibrillation given to him more than 10 minutes post arrest. Because no AED was available at his school, Sean suffered brain damage and now requires special care. "If defibrillation had been available within 3-5 minutes, things could now be different," says his father, Chris Shipler. "Public access defibrillation programs make this possible. By making AEDs available, anyone with minimal training can help save a life." About the NATA: Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports the more than 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax). NATA Recommends AEDs

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