Access to AEDs, training to use these defibrillators, and knowledge of CPR are key in preventing sudden cardiac deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest. Harrison Hugs focuses on preventing these deaths in youth and the foundation will lie in increasing the quantity of AEDs in schools.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among adults for young athletes and individuals over the age of 40 in the United States and other countries. In the U.S. alone, approximately 326,200 people of all ages experience non-traumatic SCA each year and 9 out of 10 victims die. The number of people who die each year from SCA is roughly equivalent to the number who die from Alzheimer's disease, assault with firearms, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, HIV, house fires, motor vehicle accidents, prostate cancer, and suicides combined. For sudden deaths in athletes, 54% occur in high school students and 82% occur with physical exertion during competition/training. SCA is a life-threatening condition, but it can be treated successfully through early intervention with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), defibrillation, advanced cardiac life support, and mild therapeutic hypothermia. When bystanders intervene by giving CPR and using automated external defibrillators (AEDs) before emergency medical services (EMS) arrive, 4 out of 10 victims will survive.
Bystander action is crucial for increasing the chances of survival for individuals who experience sudden cardiac arrest and preventing a sudden cardiac death. SCA victims can survive if they receive immediate CPR and are treated quickly with defibrillators. To be effective, this treatment must be delivered quickly — ideally, within three to five minutes after collapse. On average, only 10.6% of EMS-treated non-traumatic SCA victims of any age survive, but with CPR and AED intervention, the chances of survival increases by more than 3.5 times. Effective AED programs are designed to deliver shock within 3-5 minutes of collapse. In recommended placements of AEDs, the 3 minute rule is used: it takes 1 1/2 minutes to get to the AED, and 1 1/2 minutes to return to the victim, which means ideally, in every 50 feet radius there should be an AED unit available.
Despite tips for the quantity of AEDs and recommended placement of these devices within schools, many campuses will often only have one available AED. There is usually a lack of maintenance for these devices and a limited amount of people will be trained to even use the AED.
Harrison Hugs focuses on increasing the number of AEDs on school campuses and emphasizes the importance of having an AED accessible for people to use if a medical emergency ever occurs. Harrison Hugs also highly recommends having AEDs on-site for any athletic sporting events for quicker response times in these dire situations. With awareness of SCA and knowledge to intervene effectively in these medical emergencies, these deaths could possibly be preventable.
Please consider how you can help with preventing deaths due to sudden cardiac arrests, especially within schools.