Western New York Teen Suffers Cardiac Arrest

When you hear of the term cardiac arrest, images of television hospital shows Like “ER” or “Grey’s Anatomy” pop into your head. The last person you expect to suffer cardiac arrest is a teenager. Well that is exactly what happened as a Western New York teenager went in to cardiac arrest on Wednesday.

According to WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, NY a Lancaster High School student went into cardiac arrest while in a hallway at school. Another student then ran and got the nurse who called 911. The Bowmansville Fire Company responded and used a defibrillator on the student and then was taken to the hospital.

According to a spokeswoman for the school, the student is doing well.

The student is very lucky to be alive since there was no defibrillator at the school. According to the Mayo Clinic if cardiac arrest last more than 10 minutes survival is rare.

The reason I say that is the Bowmansville Fire Company is a five minute drive from their location to the high school. Now, add in a minute for the student to react to what is going on, a minute to reach the nurse, a minute for the 911 dispatcher to make get the information and dispatch the call, another two minutes to get ready and load up the fire trucks and a minute to get out of their vehicles and get to the student in need you have 11 minutes total.

According to AEDBrands.com, New York State passed a law in 2002 that requires all schools to contain a defibrillator at school.  So, the question is why did the school wait for the fire department to come before a defibrillator was used?

The reason I ask this is that there are laws that protects Good Samaritans from being sued from damages that occur during an emergency. Also, defibrillators are automated and give instructions directly to the users on how to use it, so they are very easy to use. So, really there wasn’t any excuse for someone to wait for the fire department to use one.

In other words, Lancaster High School is going to be facing a lawsuit.

One of the side effects when a person goes into cardiac arrest is brain damage. When the heart stops working, the brain doesn’t get the oxygen it needs since it doesn’t have a reserve of oxygen-rich blood. So, the brain is dependent on an uninterrupted supply of blood.

This is important, because the brain can repair itself to a certain degree. So, the student could make a full recovery, but there is one catch. That is those cells can die later and severely impact motor functions.

I know this to be true, because this happened to a family member of mine. The person suffered a severe illness that left them in a coma for a couple days.  Years later the cells that were damaged and repaired themselves started to die off many years later.

Slowly, the person lost their ability to walk, talk and is having a hard time eating. Their condition has deteriorated so severely that they reside at a nursing home even though they aren’t elderly.

Now you know why every minute matters in an emergency.

By Paul Kasprzak

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