The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

Prioritize Preparation

Following Damar Hamlin’s sudden medical event, Asher Abella poses the question: If a student suddenly goes into cardic arrest, is LM prepared?

Medical emergencies are frightening; they can be serious, and they can impact anyone. It was terrifying when Damar Hamlin, a football player for the Buffalo Bills, suddenly collapsed from cardiac arrest and required cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). It made me think about possible sudden medical emergencies that my friends or family could experience. Would I be prepared to administer CPR at a moment’s notice? Would people around me be prepared to deliver CPR if I needed it?

Damar Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest (the sudden loss of heart function) after a blow to the chest. Medically known as commotio cordis, the condition is not triggered unless one is hit forcefully in the chest which could occur to a student athlete playing in a baseball, lacrosse, or football game. The risk that someone in LM could collapse from cardiac arrest without warning is alarming. This raises the question: is LM prepared for a student or staff member to experience cardiac arrest either during a football game, in the halls, or during class?

I have observed that there are automated external defibrillators (AEDs) throughout the school, which are used to deliver electrical shocks to the hearts of cardiac arrest victims and hopefully restore heart function. There is also a clearly marked AED located at Arnold Field, well-placed at the base of the scoreboard. In addition, athletic trainers are CPR certified, and these trainers are present at every varsity football game, to respond to medical emergencies or any other injury that might require immediate care.

While LM is, according to local law, adequately prepared if a student or athlete were to have a sudden health issue, I believe that just adequate is never enough, especially when it puts students and staff at risk. 

Graphic by Annie Zhao ’24

There are many possible strategies to better prepare our community for medical emergencies. Jason Luty, the head athletic trainer, said, “each member of the training staff is CPR certified.” However, CPR certification isn’t currently mandated for teachers, which could potentially put students’ health in jeopardy regarding cardiac arrest. Another possible strategy to exceed adequate preparations for a potential cardiac arrest case is to increase the amount of AEDs throughout the school. Our campus is extensive; additional AEDs would provide for better response times and improved safety during crises.

Now, whether or not it is realistic for LM to have every staff member CPR certified, to place more AEDs throughout the school, or to at least increase training or awareness surrounding cardiac arrest is debatable. But, I believe that LM should be better prepared for immediate health issues that could occur during school, sports, or after school clubs. 

Preparing for medical emergencies in other school communities poses an even greater challenge.There are many other public schools that don’t have adequate funding for emergency medical situations, such as cardiac arrest. Some schools don’t have CPR certified staff, nor have as many AEDs as our school. I believe that this problem is therefore not unique to LM, but requires more attention and funding on a county-wide, and perhaps state-wide, level. Students everywhere should be able to feel secure in communities that prioritize their health and safety. 

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