Published February 24, 2005
Last fall, a large, colorful crowd descended on a varsity football game at Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell: many were sporting green and gold while others wore blue and white. The school had anticipated a sell-out attendance because the Blessed Trinity Titans were playing the St. Pius X Lions in a much-anticipated game; since BT opened its doors in 2000, many Pius families, as well as faculty members, have become a part of the BT community, causing a friendly rivalry between the two Atlanta-area Catholic high schools.
Preston Bazemore, ATC/L, head athletic trainer for the Titans, was especially anxious with the large numbers of fans. Not only is Bazemore responsible for the players on the field, he is also conscious of the fact that with all the excitement of the evening any individual could experience a medical emergency.
Following the Boy Scout pledge of being prepared is the reason Blessed Trinity has implemented the Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) program at the school.
“My main focus is on the field,” Bazemore said. “But I am well aware that at any moment a crisis could occur behind me in the stands and being prepared is the best policy in any medical situation. You can’t be in two places at once and the idea of having the AED program at BT gives peace of mind if the need arises.”
The AED program has been implemented by BT’s team physicians, Tony Greco, M.D., and David Rearick, D.O., who will be acting as the school’s medical directors for the AED program, Brad Kolowich, physical education department head, who is a certified instructor in CPR/first aid and AED training, as well as Bazemore. Kolowich and Bazemore have trained all BT coaches, faculty and staff on the proper usage of the AED and emergency procedure protocols throughout the year.
“We now have four AEDs on campus,” Bazemore said. “Three were purchased by the school and one was donated by Dr. Rearick. Two of the four will be mounted in the school building: one outside the clinic closer to the main entrance and the other outside the social studies workroom near the chapel.”
The location of the AEDs is as critical as any situation that may arise and must service the entire building within a maximum three-minute “drop to shock” time. A minimal “drop to shock” time is imperative to have the greatest chance for revival.
“From the time that someone ‘drops’ from a cardiac emergency and the AED is attached and the first ‘shock’ from the AED is delivered should ideally take no longer than three minutes,” Bazemore said.
The other two units are portable and will be used to service the athletic fields. The mounted unit outside the social studies workroom can also become portable, giving BT three units outside the building.
Having a few thousand fans in the stadium and a few hundred players on the field, Bazemore said, means that the likelihood of someone needing medical attention is ever-present.
“We have an ambulance at every home football game, we have doctors on the sidelines and we have student-trainers ready. Having the AEDs is just another important element to ensure the safety of all those who come to BT,” he said. “Statistically, the likelihood of having a sudden death cardiac episode in a community our size is about one every 300 years,” explained Bazemore, who is also a human anatomy and physiology teacher. “However, the purpose of the AED program is to be ready for that one; it could be you or a loved one.”
Frank Moore, BT principal, said that the AEDs on campus contribute to the overall excellence of the sports medicine program at the school.
“The sports medicine program at Blessed Trinity has done an excellent job in preparing student-athletes for competition and in treating those who have suffered an injury,” Moore said.
“The introduction of the AED program is an important addition to the overall care of our athletes and of those visiting our school.”
According to John Gorski, director of risk management for Catholic Mutual Group, the advance in technology has meant that more lives are being saved by ordinary people.
“The technology has evolved so that everyday people can use automatic external defibrillators or AED. Studies have shown that in locations where AEDs are available and used, there is a 30 percent increase in the chances of survival from sudden cardiac arrest,” he said. “Studies also show that the chances of survival from sudden cardiac arrest decreases 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute that goes by without the appropriate use of an AED.”
School officials said they would eventually like to have a total of seven units around the 68-acre campus: an additional four mounted in strategic locations for the athletic fields: one at the tennis/soccer venue; softball/baseball fields; the concession stand building/stadium area, and the to fieldhouse/lacrosse area; leaving one AED as a portable unit.
“Having all this in place brings our campus into a safer environment,” Bazemore said. “I am very excited that we have these units on hand, but in the same breath, I hope they will only be a conversation piece that gives us a great sense of security and well being.”