On May 23, 2012, my seemingly healthy 16-year-old son, Adam, died of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) at home while taking a nap. He had no warning; the first symptom was death. The only definitive way to restart a heart is with an automated external defibrillator (AED), a medical device designed to deliver an electric shock to the heart if needed. Sadly, none was available.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest in youth is not a rare occurrence. It is the #1 killer of young athletes in the U.S. But it doesn’t just happen to athletes. It’s also the #2 medical cause of death under 25.
National CPR/AED Awareness Week is June 1-7. It is critical that our community recognizes the importance of having AEDs available everywhere that youth congregate; that we encourage AED/CPR training and that we have a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan in place should someone collapse due to SCA.
When a child has a sudden cardiac arrest there is a critical 3-5 minute window for that child to be saved. Know the chain of survival:
• Early recognition of SCA which may include any of the following: collapsed and unresponsive, gasping, gurgling, seizure like activity
• Call 9-1-1
• Begin CPR immediately
• Retrieve and begin use of an AED immediately
• Early Advanced Care from first responders
As a parent who lost a child, is the founder of The Adam L Thompson Foundation and a member of Parent Heart Watch, the national voice solely dedicated to protecting youth from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), I urge you to learn more at www.parentheartwatch.org.
It is our responsibility as a community to shed light on SCA in youth and save lives. We hope you will take this opportunity to make coverage of SCA in youth a priority in June.