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Defibrillators best alternative when EMS not on hand

Posted August 17, 2009

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— Michael White, a 15-year-old lineman for Cary High School's football team, collapsed on the football field during a scrimmage Friday night in Raleigh.

A doctor attending the game was performed CPR until an EMS crew arrived and used a defibrillator to restart the teen's heart.

defibrillator Defibrillators can mean difference between life, death

Wake County Public School System's athletic director, Bobby Guthrie, said that although state guidelines recommend it, it is not always possible to have emergency providers at every sporting event.

That's because the resources are not available, according to Brent Myers, director of Wake County Medical Services, which includes EMS.

"There are only 38 ambulances available on the road in Wake County," he said. "If we staffed every home game on some Friday night, that would take half the ambulances available to the entire community."

Emergency providers say the next best thing to having paramedics on standby is having the equipment and the people who are trained to perform life-saving techniques until EMS arrives.

"We double the patient's odds of survival if we would be so kind as to push on their chest with cardiac compressions, while (an emergency crew is) coming," Myers said.

Dr. Graham Snyder, an emergency room doctor at WakeMed in Raleigh, said a defibrillator can be the difference between life and death.

"Defibrillators can be immediately life-saving for a number of different medical conditions," he said. "In a perfect world with unlimited resources, I would want a defibrillator to be on hand."

Guthrie said that every high school and middle school in Wake County is equipped with a defibrillator.

"The unforeseen can happen. You just try to be aware – have your athletic trainers be ready to handle any situation possible and just hope for the best," he said.


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  • info99 Aug 18, 2009

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  • Too little time Aug 17, 2009

    The key to this is to have an athletic trainer at these high school events.

  • RonnieR Aug 17, 2009

    Take one of the second run wagons to the football games. Back when I was on the Rescue Squad we had to "fight folks off" that wnated to go to the HS game. Sometimes we had 5-7 folks. The ones that had to stay and take calls felt left out. If there was a second simultaneous, at the same time,call, two left with the wagon and the others stayed and watched the game. Same-same with the Special Deputies and Auxillary Police that were there for security. Of course, getting in for free was a big draw. :-)