Thousand-dollar expenditure for an automated external defibrillator (AED) could cause a difference of life and death for some young athletes, a cost which Little Lock, Arkansas high school is aware of.
A heart abnormality led Antony Hobbs, 16, to collapse during his Parkview High basketball game in 2008. Hobbs did not know his condition, which was likely there since his birth. Though an ambulance did come, a died about an hour after an otherwise ordinary game tip-off.
The outcome was not the same when we fast forward two years when another Parkview player, Chris Winston, collapsed on court with the same condition. A new state law which was named for Hobbs, required that AED must be placed in schools and use of AED had saved Winston.
While the policy of Arkansas followed tragedy, the National Athletic Trainers Association or NATA and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine are asking schools to increase measures for protecting kids before summer training for fall sports.
“We’ve mostly been reactionary in terms of our preparations,” said Jonathan Drezner, a University of Washington sports medicine physician and co-author of an editorial in the Journal of Athletic Training that calls for emergency practice implementation in schools. “It shouldn’t be that a kid has to die for the school to be prepared,” he said.
11 high school football players in 2014 died during practice or in competition, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. Five deaths were caused by a brain injury or a cervical fracture. The rest were a result of heart conditions, heat stroke or water intoxication.
“AEDs are a relatively inexpensive way of saving a life,” said Doug Casa, CEO of the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, which works to prevent sudden deaths in sports. Casa authored NATA’s “best practice” guidelines in 2012 for school sporting events.