Kearney incident proves value of CPR training

Monday, July 9, 2007

Anyone who doesn't appreciate the value of CPR training wasn't at Thursday's "Mr. Basketball" all-star tournament in Kearney.

It's always frightening when someone has a medical emergency; even more so when it's a young athlete involved in a competition.

The player, Brady Zantigh, a member of the Iowa Barnstormers, had played several minutes when he headed toward the bench and collapsed. After he was found to have stopped breathing and have no pulse, they performed CPR and used a defibrillator at the tournament site.

"I've never seen a kid that age, that color," said Randy Sawyer, University of Nebraska at Kearney public safety sergeant. "That was just plain scary. His color was horrible."

The player was taken to the Kearney hospital and later to Omaha, and doctors think he suffered from an irregular heartbeat.

"Those people saved his life," tournament organizer Doug Koster said of the spectators and athletic trainers.

How true.

In fact, according to the American Heart Association, if CPR is not provided by a bystander, a sudden cardiac arrest victim's chances of survival fall 7 to 10 percent for every minute of delay until defibrillation occurs. Few attempts at resuscitation are successful if CPR and defibrillation are not provided with minutes of collapse.

And, while about 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital, effective CPR by a bystander, provided immediately after cardiac arrest, can double a victim's chance of survival.

McCook residents are blessed with a competent rescue squad, including some of the state's best paramedics, and they usually arrive within two minutes of being called.

But they can't be everywhere at once, and, especially in rural areas of Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas, response time can be agonizingly slow.

That's why it's important that as many of us as possible become familiar with CPR.

And we can be even more effective if an automated external defibrillator -- AED -- is available.

The next time you have a chance to take a CPR course, do so. And, if you're involved in an athletic event or other larger gathering, make sure someone is there to help handle medical emergencies and that an AED is available.

If you're interested in learning more, contact the McCook Fire Department at (308) 345-5710, or the health occupations department at McCook Community College, (308) 345-8160 to find out when the next class will be available.

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