In 2017, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is one of the leading causes of death in Australia. With more than 33,000 Australians experiencing an out of hospital SCA every year, many falling victim at sports clubs, it’s important to seek ways to look after your community and prevent unexpected deaths.
If you think that SCA is just something that happens to older people or people with pre-existing symptoms, you’re likely one of the lucky few who hasn’t had their life shaken by Sudden Cardiac Arrest. The chance of surviving a Sudden Cardiac Arrest without intervention is less than 10%. However, that chance increases to 70% if defibrillation is administered within the first five minutes of the incident.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Sports
A Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is different to a heart attack and can strike anyone at any time. Heart attacks are caused by a blocked artery and are more common in older generations or patients with disease. A SCA is caused by an underlying problem that results in the heart’s electrical system malfunctioning. These heart conditions are often genetic and symptom-less or by a heart being placed under extreme stress in something like a normal Saturday afternoon sporting game. They’re lethal and the only way to restart the heart is by using an Automatic External Defibrillator or AED.
An AED is a small portable medical device which doesn’t weigh much more than a 2 litre carton of milk. It detects heart electrical activity and delivers an electric shock based on the readings. As it’s automatic and has clear instructions, it doesn’t require a paramedic to operate it and can be used by anyone. This makes it an essential life-saving tool for sporting clubs, giving nearby spectators the opportunity to save a life.
People suffer unexpected SCA’s while playing sports every year and sadly, most don’t survive. As we mentioned earlier, the average survival rate for someone who has experienced a SCA reduces by 10% for every 1 minute they are without medical intervention. The common factor in many of these tragic deaths is that emergency services simply could not get there in time. Even though you might think that heart conditions are something that only affect older people, SCA’s are currently one of the most common causes of death for young people aged 16 to 35.
The Impact on Your Club
A death at a sports club is a horrible experience for everyone involved. Whether SCA strikes down a player, coach or spectator, the effects on the morale of the club last for years. There’s an enormous number of unknown young adults, children and teens with undiagnosed heart conditions. At any time and without warning, their condition could cause them to blackout and experience an arrest during a sporting event, whether they’re a player, umpire, coach or spectator.
The right equipment, rapid action and an emergency plan can save their life. If you wait until after an attack occurs then it will be too late to save them. A defibrillator is the only thing between the victim and brain damage or death when an ambulance is unable to make it in time.
Saving the Lives of our Sporting Community
Among the tragic stories from family members of SCA victims, we can see a positive story that is gathering momentum and support. There are other survivors of SCA who tell of how they wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the rapid response of spectators and teammates and the use of the life-saving defibrillator.
Under The Civil Liability Act ‘Good Samaritans’, Australians are protected if something goes wrong while attempting to resuscitate someone. The same coverage applies around the implementation of any life saving support – you simply operate to your level of ability and knowledge.
A fully automatic external defibrillator makes all the decisions for you. You are not deciding if there is a heart rhythm, the AED is; you are not deciding to “press the button” to shock the patient, the AED is. You are deciding to protect your club, your players, your coaches and your spectators by being rescue ready in the case of an emergency by having a defibrillator available at your club. Training helps you understand how brilliant these AED units are, so it’s helpful, but not essential. When looking to purchase a defibrillator for your sporting club, it’s important to consider the training involved and whether it’s included in your package; at Defib For Life, it is included.
Does your sports club have an action plan to save victims of Sudden Cardiac Arrest? Find out more about the defibrillators we offer and the training package included.