The Wright View | Make PPE’s mandatory
The funeral of St George's College's Manning Cup captain, Dominic James, received extensive media coverage over the last weekend. The tributes were real and emotional as the nation said farewell to a child whose life epitomised the best attributes of a son, a friend and a football star.
Dominic's death is the latest in what seems to be a slew of deaths involving our children during sports. We already know that one swimmer, death was recorded in 2011 by the Swimming Association, a 17- year-old cross-country Jamaican athlete in February 2014, a 16-year-old footballer associated with Jamaica College, a 15-year-old student in Marymount in January 2014, and now 18-year-old Dominic.
It was President John F. Kennedy who said: "When written in Chinese the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters: one represents danger and the other represents opportunity."
TJB responds to crisis
This obvious crisis in sports has sparked a tremendous response from Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), an association in the United States of America with a long and impressive history in providing assistance to Jamaican children involved in sports.
As a result of this 'crisis', TJB will be presenting 15 automated external defibrillators (AEDS) to pre-selected schools on October 14 at the JAMPRO headquarters in Kingston. In addition, training in the use of these machines will be provided by experts from the diaspora health-care sector.
The CEO and founder of TJB, Irwin Clare, has stated that some of the schools selected lacked strong support programmes or were identified after collaboration with 'old students' associations in the diaspora and the UNIA.
This humanitarian gesture is a continuation of the efforts of The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ), the Heart Institute of Jamaica and the group of high-school principals, known as the Inter-Secondary Schools Association (ISSA), to identify children at risk.
Out of the crisis generated by Dominic's untimely passing comes the opportunity for us to ensure that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), when it occurs, is speedily identified and treated.
The SCA occurs when the heart's electrical system goes haywire (ventricular fibrillation) and stops blood flow from the heart. The heart function ceases abruptly and without warning. When this occurs, the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the rest of the body.
The initiative from the HFJ, the Heart Institute of the Caribbean and TJB will identify those children at risk and improve the response time in the event of a cardiac arrest through the availability of AEDS, training of the support staff of schools in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and improved ambulance/transport response times.
Children at risk for SCA can be identified by completing a questionnaire (a pre-participation evaluation - PPE), where specific questions regarding unexplained fainting or palpitations, history of heart disease, heart attack or sudden death in the family, chest pains or shortness of breath during exertion are captured, followed by a detailed examination and a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG).
These children so identified would then be subjected to more detailed tests supervised by a cardiologist.
We must not allow this opportunity to be proactive in the care of our children during school-sponsored athletic activity to pass us by as another nine-day wonder as has happened before, where PPE of all children before taking part in ISSA competitions began in 2014 but fizzled in 2015.
We cannot afford to continue to fail our young sportsmen and sportswomen. The PPEs must become mandatory for all ISSA-supervised competitions.