Make PPEs manda­tory

Jamaica Gleaner - - TUESDAY SPORTS -

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 of one swim­mer, whose death was recorded in 2011 by the Swim­ming As­so­ci­a­tion; a 17year-old cross-coun­try Ja­maican ath­lete in Fe­bru­ary 2014; a 16year-old foot­baller as­so­ci­ated with Ja­maica Col­lege; a 15year-old stu­dent in Mary­mount in Jan­uary 2014; and now, 18year-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.”


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 12lead 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.

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