LAKEPORT, Calif. – Sutter Lakeside Hospital recently donated $5,000 to the Lake County Fire Protection District to purchase three automatic early defibrillators, or AEDs.
These devices, used to quickly diagnose and treat sudden cardiac arrest, play an important role in a cardiac program for student athletes in the Konocti Unified School District.
The topic of sudden cardiac arrest in the student population hits a raw nerve in Lake County, according to Fire Chief/Paramedic Willie Sapeta, Lake County Fire Protection District.
In the past decade two local student athletes experienced cardiac arrest events. One student survived and the other didn’t.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about 250,000 Americans die of sudden cardiac arrest away from hospitals.
Up to 7,000 of these victims are children – and evidence suggests the risk is higher during or immediately following vigorous exercise.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that nearly one out of every 50,000 student athletes runs the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
“We implemented a school district program nearly three years ago to help prevent potentially fatal heart events in student athletes,” Sapeta said. “So far we’ve prescreened nearly 200 students for heart irregularities using 12-lead electrocardiography (ECG) technology. The AEDs funded by Sutter Lakeside add another essential element to the program – immediate response to sudden cardiac arrest at sporting events.”
One AED will be kept at the Lower Lake High School gymnasium for elementary and high school home athletic events, and the other two will travel with teams to away games.
Athletic program directors will be trained to use the devices and respond to any cardiac arrest event while awaiting the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS) first responders. This will contribute to the safety of student athletes as well as spectators.
“We thank Sutter Lakeside for this generous contribution that makes a real difference to our local schools,” Sapeta said. “The AEDs are a critical part of our program to keep kids safe, although I’m hoping we never have to use them.”
To learn more about Sutter Lakeside, visit www.sutterlakeside.org/ .