Saving Lives on Court

What would you pay to save your own life or that of a friend?  For less than $2,000 any tennis facility can have ready access to an automated external defibrillator (AED) that has saved countless lives around the country.

“My wife just bought it!”

A tennis friend was playing a doubles tournament at a remote tennis site; but it started raining, so they had to move the match to an indoor tennis club.

While playing the indoor match, my friend suffered a heart attack.  Someone retrieved the club’s new AED and “zapped” him with it … and today, he is back playing tournaments.

The back story?  The heart attack victim’s wife had just bought the AED for the club to have!

Naples Lives Saved

Pelican Bay’s director of tennis has told me that the club’s AEDs have saved several lives when quickly used on court.  According to the National Institute of Health, “We estimate that about 1,700 lives are saved in the United States per year by bystanders using an AED.  Unfortunately, not enough Americans know to look for AEDs in public locations, nor are they are trained on how to use them.”

I am not a doctor, nor an AED supplier, but it seems like simple logic that ALL tennis (and other sports facilities) should have at least one of these life-saving devices on hand and someone trained to use it.

What are your thoughts/experiences?

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7 thoughts on “Saving Lives on Court

  1. At my suggestion, our club in rural NH bought an AED about 15 years ago. It is kept in our little “pro shop” and every member knows that when they arrive at the Club (it is not always staffed) they are to unlock that door so that access to the AED is not impeded.
    Two years ago, a man collapsed on the court. Our Club had paid for anyone who wished to get certified at our small hospital could do so for free, and my wife, Linda, called for the AED, applied it and delivered the shock, even though our training was 10 years old! He breathed but remained unconscious, and CPR was continued.
    He was alive when the EMTs arrived, and got to the hospital where they worked on him some more, and evacuated him to the tertiary hospital. He did die there, but we and his wife were so relieved that we were able to give him the best possible chance to survive.

    Rick, worth the investment! thanks, george

  2. You are correct on all details of my heart incident, but I would add that in addition to my wife applying the AED, my doubles partner was a fireman (firewoman, actually) and she did CPR on me until the EMTs arrived. The AED did the trick, but the CPR was also a valuable addition to the life saving event.

    Sheldon, it is good to still have you around to talk about it! thanks, george

  3. Use of AED’s is certainly lifesaving in appropriate circumstances. AED’s are effective for cardiac arrest and ventricular fibrillation (irregular contractions of the large chambers of the heart). In either of these situations, treatment must begin within three to four minutes or irreversible brain damage may occur.

    Use of AED’s is not a substitute for CPR, for which the new guidelines emphasize chest compressions over rescue breathing.
    Neither of these techniques is a cure for any heart ailment, but is meant to keep the person alive until emergency medical care is available.

    We should all learn both of these practices because one never knows when an emergency situation will arise. I, personally, have been involved in several situations where CPR was required, outside of my professional life and it was instrumental in saving lives.

    Finally, every public facility, not limited to sports facilities, should be required to have an AED.

    Doc, great advice (see Sheldon’s comments). thanks, george

  4. I would certainly defer to first responders and doctors on this, but I agree that having one of these devices at the tennis club is a good idea. My only caveats are: 1). I have heard that if the device has been sitting around unused for too long the batteries can drain and then it becomes useless. Online it suggests to test the batteries every 3 to 6 months. 2). I have also heard that there have been significantly large number of recalls for these machines and, basically, there are only one or two manufacturers who have not had such recalls while a bunch of other makers’ devices have been routinely recalled. I would not know who to ask about which manufacturers are better than which others on this, but presumably knowledgeable first responders would be a good repository of such information.

    Now an anecdote: As I used to live near Princeton, NJ, I used to play indoor doubles there all the time. One Tuesday night, going back a few decades, a man collapsed having a heart attack on an indoor court while playing another doubles match on the opposite side of the club from where we were playing. All of the other tennis players were in their 70s at the time, compared to an average age of mid 40s for my group. But it happens that one of the members of the other foursome was a doctor and he quickly ran to the front of the club and retrieved the AED machine . He used it to revive the poor man who had the heart attack and he also gave CPR to him until the first aid people arrived. The man survived.

    What makes it interesting is that the man who collapsed happened to be a member of the Princeton University faculty and I was told later that he was also a Nobel Laureate. I understand that he lived at least a decade longer after having suffered his heart attack. Who knows what useful scientific discoveries he was able to make as a result of having lived through his heart attack instead of dying on the court that night? It makes one wonder.

    Marty, good question and good story. Here is a link to an article comparing AED brands… George

  5. Thanks, George, for the heads-up. I’ve just checked our courts here at the Longboat Tennis Center, and we have two AED’s….one on each side of the road….haven’t had to be used so far but nice to know they’re there for all concerned, including those playing in the December tournament here.
    See you inn December!

    John, yup, we will be there! thanks, george

  6. George, In this day and age, there should be NO facility that does not an AED on site. It is one of the first thing Jason and I do when we get to Newks. Not only do we know where the AED is but we check that it is working properly. It is a very inexpensive investment for the important use that it will serve. In addition, they are now very user friendly and can be used by just about anyone.
    In my home of Coral Springs, we lost a beloved coach to a heart attack a number of years ago, where there was no AED. This started a campaign to create a fund that would place AEDs in every public park, golf course, and recreational facilities in our city. We have reached our goal but still have an annual golf outing to continue to raise money and awareness of having AEDs available.
    I want to also echo the good Doctor’s comment about CPR. The AED is a supplement to CPR and not a replacement. The most important thing is to do chest compression until an AED or first responder arrives. For every minute that CPR is not given, you decrease your chance of saving a life by 10%. So everyone should also know how to do CPR.
    Great topic and important information – thanks for bringing it up, George.

    Larry, and i was on the next court at Newk’s when they had to bring out an AED to use on one of the campers! thanks, george

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