Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Man's Life Saved by School Defibrillator

By  Evan Tiska

Just a week shy of the anniversary of his death three years ago, Louis Acompora is still saving lives. And now the legacy of the late Northport High freshman, as well as the cool-headed teamwork on the part of some local basketball players and police officers, can take credit for saving the life of an East Hampton janitor who was brought back from the grip of cardiac arrest by the timely use of a defibrillator.

Dexter Grady, a 37-year-old resident of Springs and a custodian at East Hampton Middle School, was taking his usual 45-minute dinner break from his duties last Thursday evening. As was his custom on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Grady went to the school’s gym to spend some of his time playing basketball with a group of men who assemble for pickup games.
Grady had just finished a game and was taking a breather on the gym’s bleachers a little before 8 p.m. when he became aware that something was wrong. "I sat down and I was talking to Charlie [Bateman] and Lee [Minetree] and all I remember was that I felt lightheaded; I saw stars like, then saw white," recalled Grady on the phone Monday from his bed at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola.

At the time, Minetree was also taking a break from the action and left Grady’s company for a drink of water. When he returned he found Grady awkwardly slumped on the bleachers and apparently unconscious. "Doc!" he shouted, "Doc, get over here!"

‘Then It Was Gone’

Alan Katz, an East Hampton dentist, rushed over and assessed Grady’s condition. "He was having a labored breath with a lot of saliva and mucus in his throat and he didn’t respond at all," said Katz. "It looked to me like it was going to be some sort of heart-related problem and not just a seizure or something."

The incapacitated janitor was having trouble breathing, then turned his head to one side and ceased breathing altogether. Katz began rescue breaths and was assisted in CPR by Bateman, a Sag Harbor house painter, who started in with chest compressions. "His pulse was irregular," said Bateman. "We had trouble finding it. It was there, then it was gone." Grady’s breathing resumed but was still under duress.

The custodian’s heart was in the midst of ventricular fibrillation. A normal heartbeat consists of two contractions that pass oxygenated and deoxygenated blood between the heart’s two sets of chambers. Ventricular fibrillation occurs, for one reason or another, when the heart is thrown out of this rhythm and its lower chambers beat in unsynchronized chaotic spasms. If left unchecked, this results in death. Chances of survival in such a case decrease by 10% for every minute a defibrillator is not used.

While Katz and Bateman were performing CPR on Grady, Minetree retrieved the automated external defibrillator from the hallway outside the gym. Louis Acompora’s death resulted in defibrillators being made mandatory in all New York State schools as of last December.
At 8:04 p.m. East Hampton Village Police Officers Dennis Walker and Matt Morgan responded to an emergency call made from the gym by Claude Beudert, an EHHS teacher, and arrived at the school just in time to assist Katz and Bateman in applying the AED and helping Grady’s respiration with portable oxygen. Defibrillators work by sending a jolt of electricity to the heart, causing it to flatline in the hopes that the heart will reset itself with a normal rhythm. "In the moment, trying to get this thing together, it seemed like an eternity," remembered Bateman.

Finally, the electrodes were placed around Grady’s heart and the device took over. It revved up and hit Grady’s body with a shot of electricity. "The first shock nearly gave everybody a heart attack," said Bateman. "Dexter’s body lifted right off the ground." But Grady’s heart, despite the hit, quickly lapsed back into cardiac arrest. His breathing faltered again.
He was shocked two additional times by the device before his heart resumed a normal beat. Soon Grady was breathing regularly again and he miraculously regained consciousness on the way to the ambulance. Friends and paramedics had to convince the hardcourt Lazarus that indeed a trip to the hospital was necessary.

First Success

Grady was transferred from Southampton Hospital to Winthrop where Friday, where was scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery yesterday morning. According to the patient, the doctors are still unsure what exactly caused him to fall into cardiac arrest, but they point to some clogged arteries and a genetic predisposition for heart disease as possible reasons.
Ironically, this past year Grady volunteered to be trained in the use of the AED, never believing that he would be its first success story. "Thank God I was down there [gym] and not isolated or alone in the bowels of the school," said Grady. "I’m grateful the defibrillators were on hand. I have to tip my hat to the people I work for in the East Hampton School District."

As of December 1, AEDs were required in all East Hampton schools and school-sponsored activities in compliance with a new state law. Last spring, Governor George Pataki signed a bill requiring schools across the state to purchase and maintain defibrillators with a trained staff during curricular and extracurricular activities as well as at all school-sponsored athletic events.

Pataki affectionately referred to the legislation as "Louis’s Law." John and Karen Acompora started the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation after the death of their son Louis during a lacrosse game. Louis died of a rare disorder called Commotio Cordis in which the heart is sent in ventricular fibrillation by a sudden blow in the millisecond it is between rhythms. In this case a routine save off his chest protector and no defibrillator on hand ended the young man’s life. The Acomporas lobbied the State Legislature for a law requiring defibrillators at high school sporting events, and raised money for schools and booster clubs wishing to purchase their own.

"Once we found there was something that could have saved his life, we knew this was something we had to do," Karen Acompora told The Independent in an interview last year.
School officials, faculty, and health care-conscious residents in East Hampton and throughout the East End went above and beyond the proposed law to make sure AEDs were in all school buildings and also made readily accessible to the public. Any doubt about the time and expense this took has now been assuaged by the gratitude of Dexter Grady. "I just thank God he allowed me another day," he said.

Grady is the third person in Suffolk County so far whose life has been saved by a school-sponsored AED. East Hampton Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen is planning a formal recognition of the efforts of those involved in Grady’s survival. The man himself hopes to be released from the hospital sometime early next week.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Gibbons Lacrosse Player's Life Saved by Defibrillator

By Nick Stevens

Raleigh, N.C. — Alex Beuris, a senior lacrosse player at Cardinal Gibbons, suffered a heart-stopping injury on Saturday morning, and if it weren't for the quick action and a machine called an Automated External Defibrillator, he might not be alive today.

Beuris was hit in the chest with the ball after a Providence Day player took a shot during the game.

“When it first happened, I didn’t know what happened ... I didn’t want to be one of those parents to run out on the field and go all crazy," Alex's mother, Sharon, told WRAL on Monday.

The blow caused his heart to stop beating and Alex stopped breathing.

"He started having a seizure, so I knew something wasn't right," his mother said. "When I got out there, he looked blue."

Sharon Beuris and Alex's 12-year-old sister were in attendance, but his father, Greg, was at a business conference in Daytona Beach, Fla. He said he received the call around 12:40 that afternoon, just after his airplane landed.

"We were just so fortunate that, for one, there were medical professionals in the bleachers, two or three from the other team," Greg Beuris said. “Sharron and I are just so thankful that they were there, the defibrillator was there, and it all was done in the right way.”

The medical professionals, spectators at the game, used a combination of an AED and CPR to jump start Alex's heart, and ultimately, prevent him from dying.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that his heart stopped, he stopped breathing, and if not for them it would be a much different situation," his father said.

Alex was rushed to WakeMed Hospital on Saturday afternoon, and the family returned home, with their son on Monday afternoon.

The Providence Day player that delivered the heart-stopping shot was playing within the rules, according to the Beuris family. "He took a good shot," Sharon Beuris said.

The father of the Providence Day player went to the emergency room at WakeMed to check on Alex's condition.

"I can't say enough about the support we've gotten from people we know, members of the team, and people we don't really know that well," Greg Beuris said. "It just makes you feel good about people."

Gibbons principal Jason Curtis said the defibrillator used was one that Gibbons has on its campus. The machines can cost in the thousands of dollars, and the prices can scare away some potential buyers.

WakeMed purchased AEDs for each middle and high school in Wake County in November 2003, and Wake County Senior Director for Athletics Bobby Guthrie said some high schools now have more than one AED.

Ravenscroft has eight AEDs on its campus, including one that travels around with their athletic trainer.

Alex was familiar with the AED that the lacrosse team carried with them before the incident happened on Saturday.

"He was the only freshman to make the team," his mother said, reflecting back to his freshman year at Gibbons, "and his job was to bring the AED with him."

Alex is a senior at Cardinal Gibbons this year, and was named first-team All-State in 2007 for men's lacrosse as a defender The family said Alex is at home and doing well.

The game between Cardinal Gibbons and Providence Day was suspended in the fourth quarter with Cardinal Gibbons leading 5-3.

Copyright 2008 by WRAL.com. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Several Rush From Stands to Help Injured Lacrosse Player

To watch a video news report on this story click here.

- A Fletcher High School lacrosse player remained hospitalized Thursday afternoon, a day several heroes emerged from the sidelines to help him during some scary moments on the field.

Wednesday's game between Fletcher and the Bolles School changed in an instant when goalie James Hendrick stopped an attempted goal.

Witnesses said Hendrick collapsed on the field after being hit by a ball. According to fire and rescue, the teenager went into cardiac arrest from the blow to his chest.

He stopped the shot. It hit him in the chest, and initially I thought it knocked the wind out of him," said Athletic Director Joe Reynolds.

Eva McAllister, an athletic director for the team, was among those who saw what happened and rushed on the field to help the player.

"I looked back and the goalie was on the ground. At that point we go out and check on him. I thought it was maybe his knee and the position he was in, but when I got out there realized very quickly it was much more than that," McAllister said. "We realized he wasn't breathing very well, and then he quit breathing. We went and got the defibrillator we have the school. At that time we began doing CPR."

"The coach got to him pretty fast, but he did eventually go into cardiac arrest," Reynolds said.

Hendrick was flown by air ambulance to Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center. Channel 4 was told that without the help of some fans who were in the stands, Hendrick might not have made it to the hospital.

"We were definitely very lucky. It was the right place and the right time," McAllister said.

"I'll tell you what, they're the heroes, and I really believe they saved James' live," Reynolds said.

Although Hendrick won't be on the lacrosse field any time soon, Reynolds said he believes the injured goalie will be OK.

Copyright 2008 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Grass-Roots AED Group Walks the Corridors of Power

By Robert Davis, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - In the hall outside of her congressional office, Rep. Betty Sutton of Ohio calls fellow Democratic congressman Mike Michaud of Maine over to meet her grass-roots posse.

"Mike," she says, "I have some people I want you to meet."

Sutton is championing a bill that would give matching federal money to provide every U.S. school with an automated external defibrillator (AED), a device that can jump-start a heart that has stopped beating. To help her cause, Sutton has assembled a politically powerful team.

She introduces Michaud to her cohorts — an inspired cardiologist, a teenage girl revived by an AED and a grieving father whose loss has translated into many lives saved — all of them going door to door to pitch other members of Congress.

It's an uphill battle, because her bill, H.R. 4926, is just one of more than 500 items on an Education and Labor subcommittee's to-do list

Michaud shakes hands, smiles and seems genuinely moved as he hears about the teenage lives lost and the others saved that inspired the legislation Sutton introduced.

The bill is named after Josh Miller, a 15-year-old boy from Sutton's hometown of Barberton, Ohio, who died from a cardiac arrest at his high school football game.

After Michaud, who is one of 39 co-sponsors of the bill, says goodbye, it's time for the team to go to a series of scheduled visits.

"All right, go get 'em," Sutton says as she watches them walk away. "Some of the people you are going to meet are already on board. They just don't know it yet"

Over the course of an afternoon, the group will sit on some leather furniture in spacious offices with politicians who are generous with their time. They appear to have endless patience, despite the distractions of ringing phones, blinking e-mails and buzzers calling the members to the floor to cast votes.

The group also will cram into tiny corners of packed offices, talking with young staffers who actually know how to use the defibrillators mounted in the halls.

On each stop there comes a moment when something seems to click for the members of Congress or their staffers. Facial expressions change. They reach for a pen and start writing details.

For some it was when John Acompora told how his 14-year-old son, Louis, died playing lacrosse on Long Island.

For others, it was when 16-year-old Leah Olverd talked about being saved by a defibrillator that had been placed in her school because of Louis' death.

Others appear to be moved by cardiologist Terry Gordon, who quotes both the Bible and the Quran to say that the world can be changed by saving just one life.

For Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the moment comes after he "saves" Olverd with the defibrillator trainer, a device the group brought into his office.

In the middle of the pitch to Scott's staffers over the office's front counter, the congressman walks in.

"We started a grass-roots effort in New York," Acompora explains. "Because of Louis' law, every school in New York must have a defibrillator. There have been 38 lives saved. Leah was No. 25."

Back in Sutton's office later, Olverd cries when she hears Acompora describing the loss of his son.

"That could have been me," she says, had a defibrillator not been on hand when the Bethpage High School sophomore class president collapsed during volleyball tryouts in August 2006. "That could have been my parents."

Toward the end of the day, she says her civics lesson has left her encouraged that the bill will become a law. "It's illogical for them to say no."

Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sutton Leads National Effort to Place Life-Saving AEDs in America's Schools

Press Conference Outlines Campaign to Build Awareness for H.R. 4926, The Josh Miller HEARTS Act

(Washington, DC - February 14, 2008) - Today, Congresswoman Betty Sutton held a press conference with a coalition of Members of Congress, family members, medical professionals and advocacy organizations to build support for H.R. 4926, the Josh Miller HEARTS Act. This legislation will establish a federal grant program to ensure every elementary and secondary school in the United States can obtain lifesaving automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

The following individuals participated in the press conference: Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. Randy Kuhl(R-NY), Dr. Terry Gordon, the Akron GeneralMedicalCenter cardiologist who led the effort to bring AEDs into Ohio schools, Ken and Jerri Miller from Barberton, Ohio, whose son Josh died of sudden cardiac arrest, John Acompora from Northport, NY, whose son Louis died of cardiac arrest during a lacrosse game, Leah Olverd, from Long Island, NY, whose life was saved with an AED in her school.

Also attending were representatives from the following organizations:American Heart Association, American Red Cross, Heart Rhythm Society, International Association of Firefighters, National Safety Council, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, and Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition.

H.R. 4926, the Josh Miller HEARTS Act (Helping Everyone Access Responsive Treatment in Schools) is named in memory of a 15-year-old student from Barberton, Ohio, Sutton's hometown. Although he had never previously demonstrated any symptoms of heart problems, he had a sudden cardiac arrest during a high school football game and collapsed shortly after he left the football field. By the time the paramedics arrived at the scene, it was too late to save Josh. It was a tragic event that might have been prevented with a simple device: an AED.

AEDs are portable, easy-to-use medical devices that have been deployed in many public areas, and for good reason. A defibrillator shock is the single most effective treatment for a sudden cardiac arrest, more than doubling the odds of survival. Because most sudden cardiac arrests result in death within minutes, every second is critical.

The Josh Miller HEARTS Act would establish a grant program to ensure every elementary and secondary school in the country can obtain one of these lifesaving devices. It is based on a similar program recently completed in the state of Ohio that has already resulted in 12 lives saved. Schools are central gathering places in our communities, and AEDs can not only save students, but also staff, parents, and the many visitors who come through schools every day. All too often, the push to place AEDs in schools comes in response to the death of a child at school. However, this legislation offers us an opportunity to enact preventive measures to ensure schools have the most effective tools at their disposal to prevent these tragedies.

Contact: Shannon O'Brien at 202-225-3401 or shannon.obrien@mail.house.gov

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Congress Pushes for Defibrillators in Schools

Representative Betty Sutton, D-Ohio,
left, discusses defibrillator legislation
with John Acompora on Capitol Hill
in Washington on Feb. 13.
By Robert Davis, USA TODAY

Nobody knows today how many people collapse inside schools or at school sporting events from cardiac arrest, but cities and states have begun counting the numbers of lives saved by defibrillators in schools. The devices are required in federal buildings and airliners. An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a computerized device that talks users, including children, through lifesaving steps to zap a dying heart back to a normal beat during a cardiac arrest.

In Ohio, 13 lives have been saved with school defibrillators since 2005. In New York, 38 lives have been saved since 2002.

A grass-roots push to put defibrillators into every school — to revive children who suffer cardiac arrest as well as their teachers, custodians and visiting family members — may get a jolt from Congress.

Schools are a logical place to put defibrillators, doctors say, because on any given day as much as 20% of a community's population passes through its schools.

Though many of the people saved by the defibrillators have been adults, the preventable deaths of children have fueled the grass-roots efforts. That includes 15-year-old Josh Miller of Barberton, Ohio, who died during a high school football game on Oct. 27, 2000.

His death is part of what is driving the effort in Congress to pass a bill that would provide federal matching money to help put the $1,000 devices in every school. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, calls for 3-to-1 federal matching funds to pay for defibrillators in schools.

"It's a great idea," says Peter Moyer, Boston's medical director for the Emergency Medical Services. "It will save lives, it's good for student self-esteem and introduces students to health careers."

Boston — which has one of the best track records of saving victims of cardiac arrest — has had automated external defibrillators in all of its public high schools and some of its elementary schools. Medics teach CPR and defibrillator use at the high schools. Similar efforts are underway in Nashville, where the fire department has trained health teachers to become CPR and AED instructors. The goal is to certify every ninth- and 10th-grader in CPR and AED use. So far, 70 of 132 schools have the devices.

Across Tennessee, there have been 22 cardiac arrests at schools over the past five years, says Mark Meredith, medical director for Nashville's Public Access Defibrillation program. An AED was used to revive six of those people at the school.

Getting a shock from a defibrillator within just a few minutes of cardiac arrest is key to saving these people. The odds of survival decrease 10% for every minute that a victim goes without such a shock, meaning that waiting for the typical EMS response to a 911 call is most often fatal.

"We've got the best paramedics in the world," says Terry Gordon, an Akron cardiologist who pushed for every school in Ohio to have a defibrillator in the wake of Miller's death. "But they may be on another call or stuck in traffic, and they just can't get there fast enough."

Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
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