Despite the fact we know young athletes are at risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, there are no reliable tests or warning signs for coaches, parents and victims to look for. Routine physicals for students check for weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, hearing, vision, diabetes, scoliosis and anemia. Does it look like there’s something missing? There is! They don’t check your child’s heart!
The heart is the most vital organ in the human body, yet an EKG is not considered to be part of a routine physical.
If your child had an undiagnosed heart condition and suffered from Sudden Cardiac Arrest, their life would be in the hands of the bystanders surrounding them. When the heart stops, bystanders only have 4 minutes to provide defibrillation with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and provide CPR. Every minute that the heart goes without beating, chances of survival decrease by 10%! That means only 5 minutes without a heartbeat, and your chances of survival are only 50%. The average response time for paramedics…7 to 12 minutes!
On any day of the week, 20% of our population are on school campuses. The Kern High School District is California’s largest high school district with more than 35,000 students and 3,500 employees. In fact, the Kern High School District is the largest 9-12 high school district in the United States!
Did you also know that most school staff aren’t even trained to use an AED, and there are no laws or regulations requiring AEDs be available on school campuses. It has been estimated that in the United States, nearly 10,000 children die each year as a result of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. By simply including EKGs in routine physicals and requiring easily accessible AEDs at schools, with trained staff to use them, we could save countless lives. So what is being done to reduce these preventable deaths in our children???
At Olivia’s Heart Project, we have several programs we are working towards in our effort to Keep Young Hearts Beating. Among some of our projects are our Community Heart Screenings, which allow youth to receive proper heart screenings to detect heart defects early; and Project Heart Safe Schools, which through our advocating, and success, now requires all Kern Highs Schools be equipped with AEDs, and that school personnel be trained in CPR and proper AED use.
We continue to work to educate school districts and communities about Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) programs. We also provide site assessments, guides, training and program management for locations with existing programs, and we help facilitate and implement programs for schools that don’t currently have AEDs.