I’m proud to say I’m the father of three athletes. I’m lucky to say that none of my children have fallen victim to sudden cardiac arrest. But, what if this did happen? What if I wasn’t there? Would someone know how to help?
In addition to my role as dad, I also am a cardiologist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. One of the programs we offer is Project ADAM, an initiative that helps schools recognize and respond appropriately to cardiac emergencies.
Each year we experience episodes of sudden cardiac arrest in children and adolescents, many of them athletes. These victims were with people who knew how to help, but didn’t. Why? In many cases, these victims appeared to be having a seizure.
When someone goes into cardiac arrest, what appears to be a seizure can be the result of lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain. During this time, it always is better to do something than nothing. In this setting, tell someone to call 911 immediately, start CPR and apply an automated external defibrillator. The AED will determine if a shockable rhythm is present. It will not shock someone who does not need to be shocked.
If someone has gasping respirations it may also be a cardiac arrest. Check for a pulse. If in doubt, use an AED. The 2010 American Health Association has created these guidelines for responding to an actual sudden cardiac arrest.
Learn more about how you can help your child’s school get the CPR training and AEDs it needs here. You could help save a life.
~ Stuart Berger, MD; medical director of Herma Heart Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; professor and chief of Pediatric Cardiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin; and medical director of Project ADAM
Herma Heart Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is one of the nation’s top programs for medical and surgical treatment of congenital heart defects and heart disease in children.