What Is a Defibrillator and Why Your Sports Club Should Have One
Sporting Clubs are full of healthy youngsters, so what is the point of having a machine like that?
Sadly, as the recent launch of Donal McAnallen’s book, The Pursuit Of Perfection, about the untimely death of the talented Gaelic footballer Cormac McAnallen shows, it is not just older, unfit people who can suffer from cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can happen without warnings or indeed even symptoms, and as such can happen at any time to anyone.
In the last few years, this illness had come more to the fore with sportsmen such as Fabrice Muamba suffering an SCA while on the pitch, and cricketer James Taylor being forced to retire when a severe heart condition was diagnosed. There are screening programmes in place, but they do not always pick up every heart problem. Muamba was even screened three times but still had a problem while playing. Luckily for him, there were trained personnel around and a defib/AED (Automated External Defibrillator) machine which saved his life.
However, most smaller clubs are not so well-equipped, which is why it is essential that the need for these pieces of equipment is well-publicised. The more clubs that realise the urgent need for installation the more lives that can be saved.
The survival rate for someone who suffers a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital can be as minuscule as a few percent. However, the use of a defib/AED can increase this survival rate to over 70%, a fantastic improvement as I’m sure you’ll agree.
It makes it all the more critical that the need for these machines is emphasised so that they become commonplace in an area where the public is likely to be. This is vital for clubs where young people may be susceptible to this dreadful disease.
What Are Defibs and AEDs Used For?
Defibrillators (Defibs) or Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are machines that deliver a shock to the heart when its rhythm is impaired. When someone is suffering from an SCA, their heart will be beating erratically, and a regular beat will need to be re-established. An automated external defibrillator is designed explicitly for the public to use because as the name suggests it is fully automated.
It will take a reading of the electrical activity of the heart from the patient, then calculate the electric shock that needs to be given, if any, concerning those readings (so if they don’t need it, it won’t/cant deliver a shock). It, therefore, doesn’t require the operator to have medical training or knowledge.
These are ideal for sporting clubs where anyone can pick it up to save a life; they just have to follow the given instructions, these are mostly audible now. Sometimes this will be a set of chest compressions, sometimes an electric shock is required, but the operator will be told what to do and when by the AED.
They are incredibly lightweight, which makes them very portable, and battery-operated for convenience. They do come with instructions, but as mentioned, the device will prompt the user for each step that needs to be followed.
Obviously learning how to use one would be helpful as is taking a First Aid or CPR course. But in the event of no professional or trained operators being available, it is possible to use one to save multiple lives.
You can find Sports 1st Aid and AED courses HERE
Why You Should Have an AED at Your Club
At any time, any of your players, or even one of the spectators could be struck down with a cardiac arrest. As previously mentioned, the testing doesn’t always pick up on issues, and there are many people with undiagnosed heart conditions that could be at risk.
When these machines are such a simple pieces of equipment that don’t need any medical training to use, it seems irresponsible not to have one, just in case. If anything happened to one of your players, staff, or spectators, isn’t it better to have a plan in place with the correct equipment that may save their life?
If there is no one available with training, the user doesn’t even have to make any decisions. The machine takes readings from the patient and will tell you what the next course of action is. Anyone can use them, and anyone can save a life. That makes installation of one of these machines a simple decision.
There are many stories similar to the tragic loss of Cormac McAnallen, but it needn’t be like that. Where these machines have been installed in public places, the stories of many people who wouldn’t be alive today are making the decision worthwhile.
Take the introduction of defibs and AEDs at Dublin airport. Nineteen people’s lives were saved in just the first ten years of use. There have been numerous stories in the UK and Ireland of defibrillating machines saving the lives of young players, for example here in the Irish Examiner or Falkirk Herald. When such a simple piece of equipment can do so much, you must consider it a vital addition to your club’s premises.
The advantages of having an AED at a sports club are undeniable. No specialised knowledge is required to use one, and it can be vitally important if a member of your team has a cardiac arrest. Installing one could make the difference between life and death, isn’t that worth considering?
You can find courses on CPR, AED, Sports First Aid Here