Sudden cardiac death in division I collegiate athletics: analysis of automated external defibrillator utilization in National Collegiate Athletic Association division I athletic programs

Clin J Sport Med. 2005 Mar;15(2):87-91. doi: 10.1097/01.jsm.0000152715.12721.fa.


Objective: To determine current outcomes of automated external defibrillator (AED) interventions in sports medicine programs in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division I athletics.

Design: Qualitative scripted telephone interview with all positive responders to prior NCAA division I-wide study on AED utilization and implementation.

Setting: NCAA division I sports medicine programs. Head athletic trainers were the main data source.

Participants: All positive responders to a previously published study on AED implementation in the NCAA division I sports medicine community. Positive responders were those that indicated that they had used their departmental AEDs in a sudden cardiac death (SCD) scenario.

Main outcome measurements: Survival to hospital discharge was the main outcome sought. When available, additional outcomes were time to defibrillation, time to notification of athletic training staff, EMS response time, location of event, and sudden cardiac victim type (i.e., student, coach, fan).

Results: Sixteen departments that previously reported having had an SCD event at their institution responded to this follow-up telephone survey. Twenty percent of AED uses were attributed to student athletes, with 33% of utilizations for athletic department staff and 47% for fans. Defibrillation was actually administered in 53% of AED unit applications. Time to shock was an average of 3.4 minutes, with average EMS response time of 8.2 minutes for those events without EMS on site. Reported survival to hospital discharge in this university athletic department setting for SCD was 0% for students, 75% for staff, 57% for fans, and 61% overall.

Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate the need for NCAA division 1 athletic sports medicine programs to examine, and possibly expand, the traditional scope of practice of caring primarily for student athletes to include the larger community of sports participants comprised of athletes, departmental staff, and spectators. Athletic department AED programs were extremely successfully at increasing survival of SCD far above national prehospital standards, mainly in the nonathletic population. Further study is also necessary in the realm of AED placement, maintenance, and training of staff.

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control*
  • Defibrillators / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data*