Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ref Owes His Life to Quick Thinking Teen

By Dana Thiede, KARE 11 News

[Click here to watch The CNN Video]

49 year old Dale Wakasugi loves the challenge of refereeing high school basketball games; getting calls right, by making decisions in a split second.

Last Thursday at Fridley High School, it was a spectator who made one of those quick decisions, and Wakasugi is alive because of it.

16-year-old Lindsey Paradise and her mom were watching the contest between Fridley and Simley when they noticed one of the officials stumble and fall to the court.

It was Wakasugi, who had suffered a serious heart attack.

Paradise jumped to her feet and ran onto the court, armed with recent CPR and Automated External Defibrillator training she had recieved in health class.

"It's crazy," laughed Lindsey's twin sister Alyssa, who looked on as a Fridley cheerleader.
"At first when I saw her run down there, I'm like, get out of there, but then I realized, oh, she knows what she's doin, she can do it."

Lindsey's health teacher, Jim MacDonald, agreed. "She just has, we call em 'star qualities," he said. "She just went out there, looked at the situation, and just put the situation in front of her."

Paradise was soon joined by two nurses who were in the crowd, and another adult samaritan. They administered CPR, but after three rounds, Lindsey still found no pulse. Lindsay then sent someone to get one of the school's A-E-D machines, followed the recorded voice instructions, and then pressed the button. "I'm like, I know what happened in class, I wonder what's gonna happen now," she recalled, "so I pushed it, it shocked him, I'm like oh my gosh, it's amazing, it actually worked."

Wakasugi's heart started to beat on it's own. He was rushed to the hospital, where a stent was implanted in his heart. He was discharged this afternoon, just four days after the attack. Dale is anxious to resume refereeing, and 'more' anxious to meet the 16-year-old who saved his life. "God sent her to be at that place, at that time, for a reason," he reasoned. "So many things had to happen for me to be alive, and they all fell into place."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

US Lacrosse Issues Announcement on Importance of AEDs

US Lacrosse, the governing body of the sport of lacrosse in the United States, recently issued a public service announcement supporting the implementation of AEDs and public access defibrillation programs.
» Click here to watch the announcement

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Three Bystanders, One Defibrillator Combine to Save a Life


"Without their help, the outcome would have been far different," according to Jayne Doust.

May 21, Jayne attended her grandson's lacrosse game at Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School. Without warning, Jayne says she "started making funny noises," then collapsed. She was having a heart attack.

This is another time when having a defibrillator close by this time at the school made the difference between Jayne lying dead on the field or going home from the hospital 10 days later.

Every school has a defibrillator these days. Maybe they ought to be on the sports fields, also.

"It was quite an experience," Jayne now says. She's recovering at home in the town of Marcellus after successful double bypass surgery.

"Three men helped me," she says. She's recounting the experience based on what she was told later; she was unconscious at that point. "I guess it was a case of being at the right place at the right time. They were there for the game, too."

Two physicians gave her CPR and mouth-to-mouth until the defib unit arrived. She was shocked four times. The last by the DeWitt ambulance crew. The fourth try was the luck: "I came back," she says.

After that, the ambulance took her to Crouse Hospital, then University. Before long, she was taken to surgery. The bypass procedure was performed by Dr. Charles Lutz.

Jayne identifies two of the men who helped as Dr. Gregory Baum, a plastic surgeon, and Dr. Robert Carlin, a vascular surgeon.

"She had no pulse," Rob Carlin told me. "She was dead."

The third man was David DeVito, a dentist who was sitting next to Jayne when she was stricken. David says he ran into the school to try to find a defibrillator while the two physicians who were college room-

cians - who were college roommates - worked on Jayne.

"It was total luck," David recalls. "When I got to the building I saw the loading dock door was open. I jumped up on the dock and just happened to notice the unit hanging on the wall. I don't know how long it would have taken me if I had to run through the school. There should be signs."

Greg Baum tells me there was a fourth helper on the scene with the ambulance crew who immediately stuck an IV line into Jayne.

The only thing he knows about the man is that he's a veteran just back from Iraq.

"That's the way we do it over there," the former medic told Greg.

All of the professionals involved in saving Jayne want schools to have a defib unit on the field during athletic meets. There were four games going on that night.

Jayne says she feels "marvelous" and is on a daily regimen of walks in Marcellus Park, which is near her home on Slate Hill Road. Shortly, she goes for a stress test, then begins a daily cardiac rehabilitation program.

Jayne had arterial surgery two years ago but says the heart attack struck suddenly. She'd ignored chest pains as indigestion.

"If it were not for those professionals who stepped out of the crowd when I went into cardiac arrest, I probably would not be here to tell the story," Jayne's saying. "Thank goodness schools are required to have defibrillators."

Let's get some on the fields, too.

All that water

We had a nasty reminder of the condition of city water pipes again this week, this time in Skunk City. A main broke Sunday at 1204 S. Geddes St., at Rowland Street. The break was fixed; the aftermath is damp and stinky.

City Operations Director Tim Carroll, who went to the scene on Sunday, reports that 24 homes took damage. Representatives of Syracuse United Neighbors also showed up.

Water seeping into the basements of homes on Rowland and Hartson streets brought back memories to residents of the 1981 flood, when a main line on the Geddes Street hill broke, flooding Skunk City.

After touring the area, we're told Mayor Matt Driscoll got an electrician into the Skunk City basements to crank up dampened water heaters after he learned National Grid doesn't do that. He also hired a restoration company to pump basements, give them a power wash and add heavy-duty humidifiers.

Tim says most of the work was finished by the end of the week. Meanwhile, the city is handing out forms so residents can file damage claims against the city, if they wish. He said city workers will help them "sort out the paperwork" later.

Some of the homeowners say their insurance covers the damage; some claims have been turned down by insurance carriers.

Councilor Pat Hogan, who also got involved, said he admires the neighbors. "Those are hardy folks," he says. Pat lived on the high ground above Skunk City in 1981.

The wrong number

Rich Puchalski, executive director of Syracuse United Neighbors, had an interesting experience Sunday as he worked to help Skunk City homeowners who took water. He tried to call Mayor Driscoll. He used the second number listed in our Verizon phone book, after the mayor's City Hall office.

He got a recorded message from the Syracuse University Health Services.

The mayor's office says that second number is wrong. No one is sure who messed up. Best to dial 448-2489 for the city help line when Matt's out.

Dick Case writes Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Reach him at dcase@syracuse.com or 470-2254.

© 2007 The Post-Standard. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

'He Was My Savior' Bay Shore oral surgeon, advocate of lifesaving device, uses it to save women

BY SOPHIA CHANG sophia.chang@newsday.com

Dr. Craig Levine couldn't save his 9-year-old son, Robbie, from dying of sudden cardiac arrest on a Little League ballfield in September 2005, but when faced with a similar situation with a patient this week, he made a difference.

Levine, of Merrick, and his family have raised money to provide defibrillators to youth sports leagues since his son's death. On Thursday afternoon, there was a fresh reminder of the urgency of their efforts, when a woman collapsed from a heart attack while waiting for a dental consultation in Levine's oral surgery office in Bay Shore.

Levine had an automatic external defibrillator on hand, and doctors say he probably saved the woman's life.

"I've never been a person who's believed in destiny, but there's something weird here," Levine said Friday. "Maybe this is our mission in life."

Loretta, 76, a Moriches woman who declined to give her last name, said she believes divine intervention guided her to Levine's office.

"God took me to sit in ... [his] office," she said while resting in the intensive care unit at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. "And a dentist! Who would have thought?" she added. "He was my savior."

Loretta said she was making her first visit to Levine on Thursday because she had a loose tooth cap and jaw aches. Earlier that day she had eaten some spicy chili, and when she started having chest pains while driving to Levine's office, she blamed it on heartburn. But as she was waiting, her heart stopped beating and she passed out against the wall.

While his staff called 911, Levine prepared the defibrillator. New York State oral surgeons, because they may administer anaesthesia to patients, are required to have defibrillators in their offices and to know how to use them, Levine said.

The Phillips HeartStart he has in his office is the same model that the Forever 9 foundation - the foundation that Levine started - has provided to youth sports leagues. The machine, intended for nonhospital use, is smaller than a phone book, and the two thin plastic paddles are each the size of a playing card.

Levine believes in defibrillators and still wonders if Robbie would have lived if one had been at that ballfield. The foundation, which is dedicated to Robbie's memory, is having its second annual fundraiser run Sunday in Merrick.

After Levine shocked Loretta, she vomited twice and began breathing normally.

Levine and the hospital said a patient's chances of survival decrease by 10 percent every minute after a heart attack.

Paramedic Tim Dackow arrived with the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Volunteer Ambulance crew. "The physician obviously made the big difference by applying the ... [defibrillator] and doing the lifesaving shock," Dackow said. "Without his efforts, everything else I did and the hospital staff did may not have been successful."

Loretta hasn't had a heart attack before, but she has a pacemaker and a history of heart disease, she said. She hoped to be discharged next week, possibly with a new pacemaker with a built-in defibrillator.

"We're very relieved because my dad had a massive heart attack, and he didn't live," said her daughter Ann.

Levine naturally has mulled the strange turn of events. "I'd much rather have saved my son's life," he said quietly. "But any life you save is good, and it's not up to me to determine whose life you do save."

And he knows Robbie would have given him a high-five for his heroic deed. "I think he would have been pretty impressed," Levine said.

Heart smart

NORMAL HEART: To pump blood, the heart's four chambers work in an orderly, synchronized manner.

CARDIAC ARREST: Faulty electrical and chemical signals, brought on by a heart attack or medical condition, can throw off the pumping rhythm. Blood flow to the body and brain slows or stops.

DEFIBRILLATOR: Two paddles placed on the patient's chest discharge jolts of electricity that reset the heart to a normal rhythm.

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Son's Death Inspires a Mission

Barton Silverman/The New York Times
Jill and Craig Levine, of Merrick, N.Y., with their children Samantha, 2; Rylie, 6 months; and Joshua, 8.
The couple’s oldest child, Robbie, died in 2005, at age 9, during a baseball practice.

Webmaster's note: Dr. Craig Levine saved a women's life with an AED just 4 days after this article was published. Read about the save by clicking here.

By Michael Winerip

Merrick, NY - HOW do you survive a child’s death?

On Sept. 27, 2005, at Little League practice, Robbie Levine was running the bases during a relay race. As he rounded first, his dad, Craig, the coach, remembers thinking his son had never run so fast. Robbie was a fine little athlete, that blessed 9-year-old who could catch a grounder and make the throw to first, a smart, focused boy you could put at shortstop to hold your infield together.

The father had turned to watch the next base runner and so didn’t notice the commotion right away. Robbie had reached home plate and collapsed.

“I thought he fainted,” his dad says. “I remember shaking him. He was kind of writhing. I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ He wouldn’t wake up. It started to click. I checked for a pulse, felt his arm and neck. I kept saying, ‘God, this can’t be happening.’ ”

Craig Levine is an oral surgeon and had just been recertified in CPR. “I gave him two breaths,” he says. “Then I started CPR.” He says Robbie breathed twice. “I realized later they were his agonal breaths. You learn about it in dental school, but until you see it. ...”

A police officer arrived about five minutes later with a defibrillator. “We put it on his chest,” the father says. “It said, ‘Deliver shock.’ ”

Robbie did not revive.

The ambulance came, and Dr. Levine went along.

His wife, Jill, was at home, with their younger son, Josh, running a Cub Scout meeting, when a neighbor came over. “She told me Robbie collapsed,” Ms. Levine recalls. “I figured he fainted.”

Friends stayed with Josh, then 6, and his 6-month-old sister, Samantha. Josh told everyone Robbie was just dehydrated.

“On the way,” Ms. Levine says, “I kept asking, ‘Is it going to be O.K.?’ My friend said, ‘It’s really bad.’ ”

Ms. Levine saw her husband waiting in the hospital parking lot.

“I don’t think he’s going to be O.K.,” he told his wife. “His heart stopped. I think he died.”

Today, Dr. Levine says, “I knew he was dead, as soon as we got into the ambulance. I knew on the ball field he wasn’t going to wake up. And then you sit in that room and they tell you, ‘We tried everything.’ ”

Ms. Levine says, “I just started screaming.”

Robbie Levine was pronounced dead about 8 p.m. By 10 his parents were home.

“I don’t think we slept for a few days, just looking at the ceiling wondering how,” Dr. Levine says. Besides grief, there was anger. Could Robbie have been saved if there had been a defibrillator at the field, immediately available?

This would become his parents’ cause. “It became my main focus, my coping mechanism,” says Ms. Levine, who was a social worker before staying home with the kids.

They wanted Robbie buried beside his grandfather and were told there was no room in the plot. They found themselves demanding in ways they never had before. “I kept saying, ‘He can’t be by himself,’ ” Ms. Levine says. The cemetery relented.

“People ask, ‘How do you get up in the morning?’ ” Ms. Levine says. “I had a 6-month-old daughter. I had no choice. We needed to live our life, be the normal family we are. You don’t want Josh growing up saying, ‘When I was 6, we were so screwed up, we never did anything.’ ”

They saw a grief counselor. “I went for two sessions and cried my eyes out,” Dr. Levine says. “She told me what I’m feeling is normal. So why did I need to go?”

They have consulted several medical experts about what caused Robbie’s heart failure, but 18 months later they still don’t know. It’s more than just a need to understand. Could it be genetic? Could it affect their other children? Sudden cardiac death is extremely rare: According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, it kills 1 in 200,000 young athletes a year.

Robbie’s death was particularly puzzling. Three months earlier, he’d complained of dizziness at a baseball practice, and the Levines had taken him to a pediatric cardiologist. Robbie was given an electrocardiogram and, at the mother’s insistence, an echocardiogram.

“They acted like I was this crazy mother,” she says. “The doctor said: ‘He has the healthiest heart I’ve ever seen. I never want to see him back.’ ”

Robbie’s episode of dizziness and his heart failure came when he was physically active. The Levines wondered if a stress test would have detected a problem. Between Robbie’s visit to the cardiologist and his death, he was constantly playing sports. Had there been other times he had felt dizzy and did not say so? “You tell a 9-year-old not to worry,” his father says. “Maybe he felt it and figured, ‘The doctor says I’m fine.’ ”

They have thought of suing, but have taken no action while they try to find answers.

They’ve sent the 27-page autopsy report to a pediatric cardiologist and a pediatric pathologist. Those experts did not pinpoint a cause and recommended other experts.

Robbie’s brother seemed perfectly healthy, but as a precaution, the Levines took him to a new cardiologist. “We said, ‘Treat Josh as if he was Robbie,’ ” Ms. Levine recalls. The 6-year-old had an EKG, an echocardiogram and a stress test and wore a heart monitor for 24 hours. All the results were fine.

And all the while, the Levines have worked at getting back to normal. Two weeks before Robbie died they had bought a new kitchen table at Macy’s. “At the store, we sat around the table to see if five chairs would fit,” Dr. Levine says.

They felt it might be a mistake not to fill that fifth chair again.

Six months ago, a second daughter, Rylie, was born.

A million things make them remember Robbie. “You see a couple with three kids, you wonder if they lost a kid, too,” Dr. Levine says. “I see a patient who’s 9, I think, ‘That’s how old Robbie was.’ I see one who’s 11, I think, ‘That’s how old he’d be.’ ”

Josh is now 8. His parents believe he is doing fine. “He doesn’t have behavior issues, he does well in school, he’s a happy child,” Ms. Levine says.

Around Josh, they try not to dwell on Robbie, but mention him when it seems right. His dad coaches Josh’s Rookie League team. “I’ll say, ‘Do you think Robbie would have loved this game?’ ” Dr. Levine says. “And Josh says: ‘I was thinking about him a lot today.’ He knows he’s missing.”

On April 29, in Merrick, the Levines will hold their second 5K race to raise money for the Robbie Levine Foundation. Last year they raised $35,000. Because of the foundation, there are now defibrillators at all 10 Little League fields in Merrick, stored in sheds along with the bases and ice packs. Every coach takes a three-hour training course in defibrillator use. The foundation has also made a DVD about Robbie in hopes that youth programs elsewhere will do what Merrick has done.

While public health experts I interviewed say the $1,500 each defibrillator costs might be better spent for vaccinations against diseases that kill more children, like meningitis or influenza, the Levines say if one of their defibrillators saves one child, that would be sufficient.

“If it’s your child,” Ms. Levine says, “it’s your whole world.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Immeasurable Safety After Friend's Death, Thompson Promoting Sideline Defibrillators

By Whitelaw Reid
wreid@dailyprogress.com | 978-7250

After Drew Thompson decided he wanted to play lacrosse at the University of Virginia, one of his first thoughts was whether the uniform No. 12 would be available. It wasn’t his lucky number, or the number of some professional player that he used to idolize.

The number belonged to Louis Acompora, Thompson’s best friend in high school. Acompora died on the lacrosse field during the pair’s freshmen year at Northport High School in New York.

The 14-year-old Acompora, whom Thompson had known since the second grade, fell victim to one of the flukiest killers you’ll ever hear about - commotio cordis.

It’s a syndrome resulting from a blunt impact to the chest - during a precise point in one’s heartbeat - that leads to cardiac arrest. It can happen in just about any sport, from baseball to karate.

“It has to be perfect timing and the perfect spot,” explained Thompson, Virginia’s senior co-captain. “It happens a lot in younger kids because they’re underdeveloped. It’s just real freaky.”

Acompora died on March 25, 2000, while playing goalie for the Northport High freshman team.

Thompson, a member of the school’s JV squad at the time, vividly recalls his friend’s final hours.

“I told him, ‘Good luck’ because it was his first freshman game,” Thompson said. “He was good enough to be on the JV, but the freshman team needed him because he was the only goalie in that class.”

Thompson was supposed to play in the JV scrimmage, but stayed home because he was sick. Later that day, Thompson received a phone call from his father and brother. Both were sobbing.

“They were like, ‘We need to tell you something when we get home,’” Thompson said.

Shortly after, Thompson found out that the kid who used to sleep over at his house all the time, the kid he did everything with, had died.

Thompson was in complete shock.

“It was one of those things you just can’t believe,” Thompson said. “It was crazy. Nobody had ever heard of someone passing away from being hit by a lacrosse ball.

“It was a routine bounce shot that came up and he blocked it with his chest. He scooped the ball up, took a step and then just collapsed.”

According to the United States Commotio Cordis Registry that was formed three years ago, there have been 75 documented cases of the syndrome.

However, the true number of fatalities is anybody’s guess because of the confusion in categorizing it.

It is said that young athletes are especially at risk to commotio cordis because of the “pliability of their chest walls.” Equipment doesn’t seem to make any difference. Even athletes wearing chest protectors have died. And, often times, the ball that strikes them isn’t traveling very fast.

Shortly after their son died, John and Karen Acompora formed the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation in an effort to educate people about the syndrome.

Thompson has been extremely active with the foundation since its inception.

“From the first day that I’ve known him, this foundation has been a part of his life, a part of who he is,” said Virginia coach Dom Starsia. “This is something where tremendous good has come out of a real tragedy.

“For Drew, it’s a very real thing. It’s not a convenient community service thing. This is part of his life and part of who he is. He takes it very seriously.”

Thompson is heavily involved, according to Karen Acompora.

“He keeps appraised of everything going on,” she said. “He always talks [to media members] about the foundation and what it does … it’s a great thing and helps our cause.”

In 2001, New York State passed “Louis’ Law.” It requires all public high schools to have a defibrillator program.

Louis may have had a chance of surviving if such a program had been in existence at the time of his accident. It took paramedics 15 minutes to arrive at the scene.

“The reason why a defibrillator is so important is because every minute that you don’t have one, you lose 10-percent chance of survival,” Thompson said. “You can’t be recessitated with CPR. You need to jumpstart the heart.”

Today, the Acomporas travel the country in an effort to spread the word about commotio cordis. Their goal is to set up defibrillator programs in all high schools.

Virginia has a defibrillator on the sideline for all of its games, according to Thompson, who remains extremely close with the Acompora family. Last season, they came to Philadelphia to watch him play in the NCAA Final Four.

Last summer, Thompson was in the wedding of Louis’ older sister, Alyssa. During the festivities, he read a poem in honor of Louis that was written by Eamon McEneaney, a former lacrosse player at Cornell who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“It was very poignant, and a nice thing for us to be able to reflect,” said Karen Acompora. “It was pretty much about death and, ‘Don’t miss me, I’m still here.’ It was really nice.”

It’s easy to understand why wearing No. 12 was so important to Thompson. Luckily, the number was available when he arrived on grounds because former All-American Billy Glading had just graduated. “It was great that I could wear it right away,” Thompson said.

Since then, all Northport lacrosse players - and even some athletes in other sports - have honored Louis by wearing No. 12 when they get to college.

“He was the type of kid who lit up a room, very outgoing,” Thompson said. “He just kind of had an aura about him. We were inseparable.”

No doubt, Louis would be proud of the work Thompson is doing now. According to the Acomporas, there have been 31 “saves” in the state of New York because of “Louis’ Law.” Eight of those survivors were at a fundraising banquet in October.

“It was just amazing,” Thompson said, “to see all of them step up and say that if it wasn’t for Louis and the foundation, they wouldn’t be living.”

© 2007 Media General. Part of the GatewayVA Network.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Trinity Player's Dad: 'A Miracle' Son's Alive

"It wasn't looking good" for lacrosse player struck in chest, father says.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/29/07

Blessed Trinity lacrosse player Matt Ivie, who suffered a life-threatening injury when he was struck by the ball in the chest during a March 16 match, said he plans to return to sport this season.

School officials have declined to speak on the incident, but David Ivie, the player's father said he thought "had lost his son for a minute or two" after he was struck in the heart area from a ball hurled from around five feet away traveling as fast as 80 mph.

"I really thought he was maybe slipping away," the elder Ivie said.

"He was motionless, he wasn't breathing, and the trainer said his pulse was getting weaker and weaker. His eyes were open, but the pupils weren't moving. He had blood coming out of his mouth and nose.

"It wasn't looking good, that's for sure."

Ivie said Blessed Trinity trainer Preston Bazemore had cut off his son's uniform, and hooked up electrodes from the defibrillator across the chest area. Fortunately, the shock treatment was not needed because the player somehow regained consciousness.

"Matt blinked, and then he coughed, as if he was under water for a long time. Then he took a deep, deep breath. It was a miracle."

When a lacrosse ball, baseball, hockey puck, softball strikes a player near the heart area at a precise moment between beats, it can cause contractions that lead to rare from of death called "commotio cordis." According to U.S. Commotio Cordis Registry, more than 130 cases had been reported by 2001.

The elder Ivie said while doctors say his son's life was "in danger," they don't believe he experienced commotio cordis because only the use of a defibrillator can restart the heart, and Blessed Trinity's defibrillator was hooked up but never used. He said the doctors were reviewing the readings from the machine, but may never know exactly what happened.

Matt, 16, said the only thing he remembers is falling to the ground after the ball deflected off his body in Roswell private school's match against McIntosh, which was immediately canceled after the incident. Ivie was transferred to Scottish Rite hospital, where he said he was diagnosed with bruised heart and lung and remained under observation for two days.

"It was a freak accident, but it made me think about what I am doing with my life, and how I should change it around because you never know if today will be your last day," Matt said. "I feel lucky to be alive, and I am so thankful to Mr. Bazemore."

Matt said his chest area remains sore, but that doctors told him he suffered no permanent damage and could be given clearance to return to lacrosse by the second week of April. His parents have purchased a pair of shoulder pads that are longer in front, providing more protection for the chest area.

"We decided we wanted to tell Matt's story because we want to get the word out about this [danger]," the elder Ivie said.

"Even though there may be only one chance in a million of this happening, there's still a chance. Fortunately, Blessed Trinity had the right people and right equipment when it happened. They invested in those resources for the safety of our children.

"There may be other schools out there that don't think they need these resources at lacrosse matches or other events, but hearing about this may convince them otherwise, to make it more of a priority."

© 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

New Cardiac Arrest Guidelines for Athletes

WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) The Inter-Association Task Force has established recommendations for U.S. high school and college athletic programs to treat sudden cardiac arrest.

The guidelines in the April edition of Heart Rhythm address prompt recognition of sudden cardiac arrest and early activation of the emergency medical service system.

The presence of a trained rescuer to initiate CPR and access to an automated external defibrillator for early defibrillation are essential to ensure that athletes receive immediate treatment.

When an athlete collapses and is unresponsive, it's recommended to apply an automated external defibrillator to the athlete for rhythm analysis as soon as possible, ideally in under three to five minutes, according to lead author Dr. Jonathan Drezner of the Hall Health Sports Medicine Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Sudden cardiac arrest can be mistaken for other medical problems, but responders should assume it's sudden cardiac arrest until proven otherwise, says Drezner.

Everyone associated with an athletic program should be familiar with sudden cardiac arrest to increase the athlete's chance of survival, Drezner says.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Playing for Louis

Siena lacrosse players promote use of defibrillators to honor a late friend

By Pete Iorizzo, Staff writer
First published: Sunday, March 25, 2007
LOUDONVILLE - Matt Donovan's left leg bears the tattoo of a cross, a symbol to celebrate his friend's life and mourn his death.

Brian Cordts taps the goalpost 12 times before every lacrosse game, because his friend wore that number right up until the day he died playing the sport he loved.

Donovan and Cordts charted similar paths to the men's lacrosse team: Both starred at Northport High, on Long Island. Both bounced through colleges and junior colleges. Both settled in Loudonville, where they are helping revitalize the Saints' lacrosse program.

And both pursue their sport for the same purpose -- to honor their friend and Northport teammate, whose death seven years ago today at first left a community grief-stricken, then made it the front line of a battle to save lives.

"Everything I do in lacrosse, it's for him," said Donovan, a senior attackman.

Donovan's friend, Louis Acompora, was just 14 years old and playing for the Northport freshman team when a freak accident took his life.

A shot struck Acompora, a goalie, in the chest at the precise instant his heart rested between beats. Acompora corralled the ball, flung it back into play, then collapsed in cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

Acompora's parents later learned the rare condition that led to Louis Acompora's death is called commotio cordis; it occurs when a person suffers a blow to the chest between heart beats. If Northport had had defibrillators nearby, Louis Acompora might have been saved.

Within weeks, his parents, John and Karen, established the Louis Acompora Foundation. Its primary mission is the passage of laws to require that every school have a defibrillator. Two years after Louis Acompora died, New York became the first state to pass such a law. By John Acompora's count, the law has saved at least 30 lives.

John Acompora credits Louis' friends and teammates, like Cordts and Donovan, for helping publicize the foundation's mission.

"To convey how special it is that Matt and Brian are keeping Louis alive by stepping on the field is just impossible," John Acompora said.

Donovan and Cordts, in turn, credit Louis Acompora for their lacrosse careers.

Cordts played baseball until ninth grade, even though Louis Acompora always insisted, "Come give lacrosse a try." On the day Louis Acompora died, Cordts learned he failed to make Northport's baseball team. Within days, he had joined the lacrosse squad.

Despite the circumstances of Louis Acompora's death, Cordts later became a goalie, in part to honor his friend.

"My mom and dad, they both had concerns about me hopping into net," Cordts said. "But I just felt like if Lou were to pick a place to pass, that would have been where he wanted to go."

The Northport freshman team canceled its next two games after Louis Acompora died, because it had no other goalie. Believing his friend would have wanted Northport to continue playing, Donovan volunteered to play goalie until a replacement could be found.

The team finished the season with a 3-10 record.

"It didn't matter," Donovan said. "We weren't playing for wins. We were playing for Louis."

From Northport, where they won a state championship and at one time ranked No. 1 in the country, Donovan and Cordts skipped through several colleges and junior colleges. Cordts started at Cabrini College, then transferred to Suffolk Community College. Donovan started at the University at Albany, transferred to Stony Brook, then moved to Suffolk before settling at Siena.

"Louis aspired to play at a good college," Donovan said. "We kind of took it upon ourselves to do it for him. We wanted to play at the highest level we could for him."

They have succeeded at Siena.

Donovan, at just 5 feet, 9 inches and 155 pounds, led the nation last year in assists. He paces the Saints (2-3) this year with 13 assists and is second with 19 points.

Cordts, whom former Northport coach Bob Macaluso called "a phenomenal athlete," started two of the first five games in goal. He led Siena to a 15-2 win over Merrimack on March 10.

"They're inspired by the memory of Louis Acompora," Macaluso said.

The Louis Acompora Memorial Foundation continues to push for defibrillator laws in more states. The Northport school district was first to implement a defibrillator program. Now, laws are either in effect or being considered in Ohio, California, Delaware and Florida.

Donovan and Cordts continue to honor their friend's memory in subtle ways. Donovan wears socks with the No. 12. Cordts gestures to the sky and says a prayer before each game.

Cordts, a sophomore, wears No. 2 this season, because another player already wears Acompora's number.

"But I'll be 12 next year," Cordts said. "You can be sure of that."

Iorizzo can be reached at 454-5425 or by e-mail @ piorizzo@timesunion.com.   
All Times Union materials copyright 1996-2007, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Quick Thinking Saves a Life at Wrestling Match

New York Teacher - February 27, 2007 -

Shane Lese has spent years acting on the "let's get physical" buzz. It's his job, as a phys ed teacher and wrestling coach at Horseheads High.

In December, his physical response was tested when he used an Automated External Defibrillator to help save a man who was having a heart attack at a wrestling match.

Lese, a member of the Horseheads Teachers Association in the Southern Tier, was coaching a match at Newark Valley High.

"I'd gone into the cafeteria to get a quick bite to eat and was coming back," said Lese. "I was just on my way back to the gym and I noticed a commotion."

That's when he was told a man in the bleachers was having a heart attack. He and a group of helpers put the man, John Lupo, flat on his back in the bleachers.

"We all kind of helped in the process of getting him to lie down," said Lese. "Then he became unresponsive."

Donna Hyde, a registered nurse and mother of a wrestler, and Lese both said, "We need to get a hold of an AED," Lese recalled.

Hyde and Walter Farrell, father of a wrestler, took Lupo's pulse.

"We determined he didn't have a pulse. He was not breathing," said Lese.

He said it only took about a minute for wrestling coach Eric Darcy, a member of Newark Valley United Teachers, to locate and hand them a defibrillator. The life-saving devices are now required in every school because of a NYSUT-backed state law that took effect in 2002.

Hyde started chest compressions and Farrell was doing rescue breaths, said Lese, who is a certified CPR instructor.

With the commotion in the gymnasium as people were cleared out, Lese said, it was hard to hear the AED prompts.

Shutting down

"It was a scary moment to see a man who, when you looked at him, was gasping for air. His body was shutting down," Lese said.

"You didn't know what he was feeling other than that something was desperately wrong."

He gave Lupo one shock with the AED and was relieved to see him become "somewhat responsive."

"Right as the EMTs arrived, he was just starting to come to," Lese said. "His heart hadn't completely stopped."

AEDs, he said, deliver a shock to get the heart into a more natural rhythm. "To not have these at different facilities is kind of crazy," Lese said. "Seeing CPR administered to what was a lifeless body … it's scary ... you're just thinking, 'What do we have to do?' You do what you're trained to do."

Lese said he is not a hero.

"A hero risks their life," he said. "I was just in the right spot at the right time."

At Horseheads High, all high school students are taught adult CPR.

NYSUT.org. Copyright New York State United Teachers. 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, New York, 12110-2455. 518.213.6000. http://www.nysut.org.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Recognizing Save #30 for Louis' Law!

Pictured (left to right): Physical education teacher Joe Mercado, Nurse Edwina Cook, Survivor Sadrettin Akgun, Nurse Ana Andersen and Custodian Tom Gortman.

On February 14, 2007, Sadrettin Akgun, a custodian at Meadow Elementary School in the Baldwin School District, suffered cardiac arrest while shoveling during the ice storm. Two nurses, Edwina Cook and Ana Andersen, and Joe Mercado, a physical education teacher, quickly administered CPR and used the school's defibrillator to literally bring Ms. Akgun back to life.

Recently, John and Karen Acompora presented awards to rescuers from Meadow Elementary School in Baldwin, NY for their role in saving the life of Sadrettin Akgun.

Monday, February 5, 2007

School Says State-Required Defibrillator Saved Studen

By OMAR AQUIJE, oaquije@poststar.com
Monday, February 5, 2007 10:55 PM EST

GLENS FALLS - A 7-year-old student is alive today because of an automatic external defibrillator his school purchased to comply with a 2002 law, making him the first in the Glens Falls City School District to be saved by the device.

Officials at Big Cross Street Elementary School used the AED on Friday to save Adam Chen, whose heart stopped beating during gym class.

An AED determines if a person who is suffering from a heart attack needs an electrical pulse, which restores a normal heart rhythm. EMT crews were still on the way to the school when the AED was used.

The device must be used immediately because the chance of a victim's survival decreases by 10 percent with every minute that passes, according to www.aed.com.

"Had this not been available at the school, he would have died," said Dr. Florence Nolan, who treated Adam when he was taken to Glens Falls Hospital.

He was later transported to Albany Medical Center, where he was still in intensive care Monday.

It is not known how long he will be hospitalized. But if everything goes well, he could be released in a week, Nolan said.

It is unlikely, however, that Adam will be able to play sports, she said.

The AED's memory allowed medical personnel to learn what happened with Adam's heart during the incident -- information that would not show in an autopsy, leaving the death unexplained, Nolan said.

A family spokesman would not comment Monday.

There are two AEDs at each Glens Falls high school and middle school. Each elementary school also has a device.

One of the AEDs -- which cost $2,500 each -- is brought when students go away on trips or road games, and schools are responsible for having one when they host games, said Glens Falls Superintendent Thomas McGowan.

He said the Big Cross staff did a very good job responding to the incident and followed protocol.

"We were very fortunate that we had the machine and everybody did what they had to do," McGowan said.

In 2002, an education law was created requiring each New York school district to have at least one AED in its facilities. Districts also have to ensure that each building has at least one staff person who is trained to use the device.

Nolan said anyone who has a family member who died suddenly and unexpectedly -- without obvious trauma -- should have an EKG to determine if he or she has Long Q-T syndrome, a hereditary disorder of the heart's electrical rhythm that can occur in otherwise healthy people.

© Copyright 2007 Lee Publications, Inc. DBA The Post-Star

Monday, January 29, 2007

Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. Receives Grant from the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation for Life-Saving Defibrillators

The AED donated through grant
from the Louis J. Acompora
Memorial Foundation
Old Bethpage, NY - January 29, 2007—The Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation generously provided a grant to Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE) for automated external defibrillators (AEDs). These life-saving devices will enable Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. to deliver defibrillation if sudden cardiac arrest were to strike any of the hundreds of individuals with disabilities who participate in day programs offered by the agency or its staff. The portable automatic devices will be used at the agency’s programs in Old Bethpage, East Setauket and Middle Island as a precautionary measure to restore a normal heart rhythm to individuals in cardiac arrest. Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. provides educational, residential and other support services for individuals with special needs.

Barbara Cohen, Assemblyman Andrew Raia, Barbara Townsend-Chief Executive Officer Family Residences and Essential Enterprises Inc., Karen Acompora, John Acompora, Jeff Cohen-Director of Gift Planning National Foundation for Human Potential, Robert Budd-Chief Executive Officer Family Residences and Essential Enterprises Inc.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Doctor, defibrillator bring man back to life after Rye tennis court collapse

RYE, NY (News 12) - 01/26/07 - A White Plains doctor used her medical skills to save a man whose heart stopped while playing tennis in Rye Tuesday night.

Dr. Lisa Youkeles noticed 44-year-old Larry Dubler laying on the ground two courts away at the Rye Racquet Club. Youkeles performed CPR on the unconscious Dubler before using an automated defibrillator to jumpstart his heart. According to Youkeles, if she had waited for the paramedics, Dubler could have sustained irreversible brain damage.

Dubler is recovering at Connecticut Hospital. Defibrillators are required in schools and at school sporting events throughout New York, which was the first state to enact such a measure.

Video: To watch the News 12 news report on this save, click here.
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Northport, NY 11768
Phone: 631-754-1091