Carson Tahoe Health donates defibrillator to Douglas High

Douglas High officials and athletes join Kitty McKay of Carson Tahoe Health athletic program in the high school gym on Thursday.

Douglas High officials and athletes join Kitty McKay of Carson Tahoe Health athletic program in the high school gym on Thursday.

Douglas High School athletics received a safety-related assist last week when Carson Tahoe Health donated an automated external defibrillator (AED).

The AED, a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, was presented during a brief gathering of school officials, student-athletes and Carson Tahoe Health in the high school gym.

Kitty McKay, director of foundation development at Carson Tahoe Health, explained that the donation was made possible from funds raised from donors in the community.

She also noted that the portable device supplements an AED device that was already available inside the school.

“They have them in the school, but out on the field, they don’t,” McKay said. “So the time it would take for somebody to run inside, grab the AED and get it back out there, it would be such a time loss. And whenever you’re talking about heart, every minute matters. So to be able to immediately get somebody pumping again is truly life saving.”

Kate McCaffrey, Douglas High’s first-year athletic trainer, expressed her gratitude after the presentation.

“I really want to give a huge thanks to Carson Tahoe Health for their generous donation,” she observed.

“Many people don’t realize that sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of young athletes, usually brought on by a pre-existing, detectable condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy,” she continued. “It will not only serve to help save athletes’ lives, but coaches, referees, and community members that come to the athletic events.”

McCaffrey, whose work at Douglas is part of a partnership with Barton Health’s Tahoe Center for Orthopedics, explained that the device will be in her possession for the outdoor sporting events she attends.

“I go to all the home sporting events on the baseball fields, soccer fields, football,” she said. “So it’s important, not just for the athletes, but it helps more so for the fans. If someone in the stands happens to have a heart attack, I’ll be right there … someone can come grab me and I’ll have that with me at all times.”

McCaffrey elaborated on the benefits of the AED.

“Having personnel there that can recognize cardiac arrest, easily access an AED, and know how to use it are key components to early intervention,” she explained. “With an AED, the chances of survival go up to 90 percent. As an athletic trainer, you always hope to never have to use it, but being prepared in times of an emergency is critical to saving a life.”

Use of the AED is simplified by audio instruction provided by the device itself.

“Even if you are not CPR certified, it actually gives you instruction right when you hit the start,” McCaffrey said. “It’s pretty self explanatory, but it’s good for someone to know what they’re doing.”

Douglas Athletic Director Jeff Evans added: “It actually talks you through what you need to do.”

McKay pointed out that the instruction tells a user exactly where to place the pads for use on a victim.

“But that’s one of the really cool things about having AEDs now,” she said. “You see them in schools, community centers, everywhere, but they’ve designed it in such a way that even if you have no idea what you are doing, you’re going to immediately be able to jump in and help, once you they’re there. So it’s really a neat technology that’s now readily available and now you guys have it in a portable form. They really are amazing.”


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