In big cities, sports arenas are among the top five places where sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs-but what about towns that don’t have major league stadiums? If little league or the varsity squad is the only game in town, that’s where the people will go, and that’s where SCA will happen.

SCA is one of the most common causes of death in the US, claiming about 325,000 lives each year. Until relatively recently, treatment for SCA-an electrical shock known as defibrillation-was usually administered either in a hospital or by emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. Innovative communities are looking for ways to improve access to defibrillation. They are equipping firefighters, police-and now high school coaches and athletic trainers-with automated external defibrillators (AEDs), allowing them to provide critical treatment before EMS arrives. The leading seller in the field is the LIFEPAK® 500 AED, manufactured by Medtronic Physio-Control of Redmond, Wash.

Unlike the models of defibrillators intended for use by paramedics, nurses and doctors, AEDs do not require extensive medical knowledge to understand or operate. The expertise needed to analyze the heart’s electrical function is programmed into the device, enabling trained professionals to respond to cardiac emergencies. For more information about Medtronic Physio-Control, visit the company’s website at


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