June 5, 2013

Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young Athletes: Are Coaches Prepared?

SCA in Young Athletes: Are Coaches Prepared?It’s a heartbreaking story to come across in the news. In the course of playing a game he or she loves, a young athlete suffers from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), usually from an undiagnosed heart condition. These types of conditions are very often undetectable from a typical student sports physical, and, without immediate intervention with CPR and defibrillation, an SCA on the playing field can result in death.

For an interesting discussion of the use of pre-emptive EKG testing in school sports, click here to read the April 30, 2012 post from the New York Times Well Blog
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How can parents and coaches be prepared?

Around here, we’re always all about CPR, AED and first aid training. Youth sports coaches, whether paid or volunteer, are the go-to adults on the field, and states have varying requirements and recommendations for the level of emergency care training, if any, a coach must have.

For our ASHI and MEDIC First Aid training centers, the HSI regulatory team has been working on a big project to ensure that the latest requirements for athletic coaches (among others) are included in our regulatory database in Otis.

If you need more information on regulatory compliance, please visit, or call us at 800.447.3177. We’re here to help!

Now, if you are a sports coach yourself, I’ll let HSI Director of Production Ted Crites share some sobering statistics with you. Ted, also a member of US Football’s Football and Wellness Committee, was quoted in a USA Football article encouraging coaches in youth football to get trained in CPR:

For every minute of delay, Crites said, the chance of survival goes down 7 to 10 percent.

“Crites, a certified health education specialist and member of USA Football’s Football and Wellness Committee, said having coaches who know how to administer CPR is important to the well-being of everyone at youth football practices and games.

For every minute of delay, Crites said, the chance of survival goes down 7 to 10 percent.

“I can’t emphasize how important it is to have someone on the field at youth games trained in CPR,” Crites said. “If there is no ambulance at the field, there are very few minutes available for survival after sudden cardiac arrest.”

The USA Football article focuses on compression-only CPR, which is an effective, easy-to-learn alternative to full CPR. Whichever CPR method a bystander chooses to use, the sooner someone takes action in an emergency, the better the chances of a good outcome. Coaches should check their state regulations and consult with their emergency care training center to see if there are any stipulations regarding the types of CPR in which they should be trained.

101 Tips for Youth Sports Coaches

Even beyond CPR, there’s a lot more for coaches to consider. For example, we couldn’t agree more with the National Association for Sport and Physical Education’s 101 Tips for Youth Sports Coaches brochure, which offers these excellent health and safety ideas:

72. Check environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, humidity, surface of practice field) before practice and competition, and modify unsafe conditions and/or make adjustments. 
75. Keep athletes’ emergency contact information with you at all times. 
76. Be prepared to implement an emergency action plan.
80. Be knowledgeable about your athletes’ medical conditions as they affect sport participation.
81. Follow privacy regulations related to personal health information (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA).
83. Develop the knowledge to recognize injuries and provide immediate and appropriate care. 
84. Follow the league’s procedures for reporting serious injuries. 

Inspired to take that CPR/AED/first aid class? Find an ASHI or MEDIC First Aid training center near you.

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