Local League Volunteer’s Effort to Make AEDs Available Leads to Life-Saving Act
Sue Bruce is a licensed practical nurse from Dillsburg, Pa., who has been a part of Dillsburg Little League for about 20 years. This past year, she became a member of the Dillsburg Little League Board and has been working diligently to provide the community’s ball fields with Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).
“We actually became aware of the need for AEDs from an article that was posted on the Little League website,” said Jason Shook, President of Dillsburg Little League. “After that, we discussed the possibility of acquiring AEDs for our league.”
Once the conversation had been started, Mrs. Bruce stepped in to find AEDs for the league. When she began this endeavor, she was not yet a member of the Dillsburg Little League Board of Directors, but rather a volunteer who saw a need and filled it.
“There were people talking about the need for AEDs, but no one was doing anything to get them,” said Mrs. Bruce. “So, I just decided to do it myself.”
“AEDs are important because cardiac arrest could happen to anyone, on the field or off … It can happen at any time.” – Sue Bruce
Mrs. Bruce acquired seven AEDs for her local league, one for each of Dillsburg’s fields. The first AED that she acquired was from Julie Walker, the founder of the Peyton Walker Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in memory of Mrs. Walker’s daughter, Peyton.
“After seeing everything that Julie has done, I knew that I would be able to meet my goal,” said Mrs. Bruce. “It gave me confidence to continue to work towards getting those AEDs for the league.”
Mrs. Bruce acquired a second AED from the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. The remaining five AEDs were purchased with the aid of donations from organizations and local community members.
“AEDs are important because cardiac arrest could happen to anyone, on the field or off,” said Mrs. Bruce. “It can happen to anyone at any time.”
One of the AEDs that Mrs. Bruce placed at a local field was used, just days after she finished installing the last of the units. While watching his son’s Tee Ball game, Eric Lynes collapsed. Luckily, Robyn Bucek and Samantha Clayton, who are both nurses, were also in attendance and administered life-saving care.
“(The gentleman) was laid down and then he lost consciousness, so one nurse administered CPR while the other ran to get the AED,” said Bill Bruce, Sue’s husband and Umpire-In-Chief of the league. “By the time the ambulance arrived, he was conscious and speaking.”
One of the nurses called Mrs. Bruce after the incident and told her that without the AED on site, the day may have had a different ending. During cardiac arrest, brain death begins about four to six minutes after collapse, and the victim’s survival rate drops by an average of 10% for every minute that passes without treatment. Ambulances can take up to 20 minutes to arrive, which in many cases is too late.
“If we had not had the unit at that field, he would not be here today,” said Mrs. Bruce. “I’m glad that we had the AED on site and people with the knowledge to use it.”
When community members first heard of the league’s intent to purchase AEDs, there were mixed feelings. Some felt that having AEDs on site was simply a want, not a need.
“A lot of people felt that the AEDs were more of a luxury than anything,” said Mr. Shook. “We heard a lot of people say that we’d never need or use them.”
After the incident, many who initially opposed the AEDs saw their importance to local leagues. Dillsburg Little League is taking steps to educate community members and provide them with basic CPR training to be ready for, if or when, a similar situation occurs. While having an AED on site is the first step, it is equally important to be trained in its usage, as well as in the basics of CPR.
“We’ve had several nurses and other health officials connected to the league reach out,” said Mr. Shook. “They want to help us train other community members in the use of AEDs.”
The event that occurred in Dillsburg is not unique, but it does have a happy ending thanks to the AED on site. Mr. and Mrs. Bruce now wish to spread the awareness of the importance of AEDs beyond their local league.
“You always hear people say, ‘It’ll never happen to me,’” said Mr. Bruce. “But it could be one of us, and I hope that more people put that into perspective.”