This past summer we shared a story about a player from Manassas, Virginia, who saved his teammate’s life by performing CPR until the paramedics arrived. The teammate was running from second to third base during a practice game when the catcher threw the ball, accidentally hitting him under the left arm pit. The ball hit his heart, causing Commotio Cordis, a lethal disruption of the heart rhythm, and he went into cardiac arrest. A tragedy was avoided thanks to the swift action of this young man.
Unfortunately, heart problems can occur in a person of any age. Although baseball and softball are among the safest youth sports, you should never assume an accident won’t happen. Purchasing an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and having some of your league volunteers complete training and certification in first aid, CPR and AEDs is well worth the investment.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) isn’t just a concern for adults, but the cause is usually quite different. SCA in children is often more likely the result of injury rather than a health factor. A strike to the chest from a ball can trigger heart problems for a person of any age. Commotio Cordis happens when the area directly over the heart is struck, and causes cardiac arrest. Children are especially prone to this condition due to less developed and weaker ribs. While an AED can’t completely guarantee to fix the onset of SCA, it can significantly reduce the 65% fatality rate presented by Commotio Cordis.
There are steps that can be taken to help prevent an incident involving Commotio Cordis. Coaches can teach players how to turn their bodies to protect themselves from an off target pitch, although this method can be hard to teach to younger players. Batting vests or heart guards can also be worn, helping protect the heart from a direct strike. It goes without saying that while events causing SCA are fairly rare accidents, they are also harder to anticipate and prevent.
When a player is struck and falls to the ground, an AED significantly increases their chances of getting back up. Having an available AED and volunteers trained to use it really can save a life.
AEDs are becoming more and more common for every sport. It is never too soon to jump on board with improving the safety of baseball or softball for players in your league. AEDs do have a higher up-front cost, but they have a high rate of effectiveness. And there are grants and other sources of funding available on the internet to purchase an AED.
Babe Ruth League highly recommends you have volunteers trained in CPR present at all practices and games. And if your program can afford or secure the funding, we suggest an AED be available during practices and games, as well as volunteers certified to use an AED.
Information on AED training and certification is available online on the American Red Cross’s website: www.redcross.org