Health Watch: Why 14 states now require AEDs at schools and athletic events

Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, are now required at schools and athletic events in 14 states. The devices are designed to bring a heart back into rhythm after sudden cardiac arrest, a condition where the heart is just quivering, and not pumping blood. A quick-thinking coach and the backpack on her bench helped save the life of a New Jersey teen.

Lynette Messina is head coach of the Garfield High School Boilermakers.

Getting players of all abilities to work as one unit.

Freshman Gabriela Koziol had just joined the squad. But on the first day of after-school practices last fall ...

"They were doing a run, and when they got to the other side, Gabby collapsed," said Coach, Lynette Messina.

"I just remember hearing the goalie scream after I fell," said Gabby.

Lynette and her assistant coach were on the other end of the field.

Lynette continued, "I had him run back to grab the AED, I started CPR, and he called 911."

In all her years of coaching, Lynette always had the AED within quick reach, as mandated by New Jersey law, but never had to pull it out in a life or death situation.

The device "talks" users through the delivery of a shock to the heart. The AED applied only one shock to Gabby's heart.

Barry Love, MD, Children's Heart Center at Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital, says, "With the application of the shock, it put the heart back into normal rhythm which restored normal output of the heart and normal perfusion and Gabby woke up almost immediately."

Dr. Love implanted this tiny defibrillator inside the teen to help start her heart if it arrested again.

"I would say it's like her having her own guardian angel," stated Dr. Love.

"If I could get back on the field, I would really love to. I'd just want to play goalie again," Gabby exclaimed.

With one seldom used back-up ever-present on the bench.

In addition to the 14 states that mandate the AEDs at schools, there are now 38 states requiring students to learn how to perform CPR. Dr. Love says they will have to evaluate Gabby to determine if she will be cleared to play soccer again next season.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor; and Kirk Manson, Videographer.
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