Improving youth sports safety: Implementing an emergency action plan for sudden cardiac arrest

J Pediatr Nurs. 2021 Feb 4;59:81-88. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2020.10.001. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: Children who participate in youth sports are at risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) related to undetected cardiac anomalies or abrupt impact to the chest. Nurse-led interventions may prevent sudden cardiac death by helping leagues implement an emergency action plan to respond to SCA and improve safety. A youth soccer league in the Southeast with participants between the ages of 5-19 years, led by volunteer board members and coaches, did not have reliable access to automated external defibrillators or receive standardized education on SCA and cardiopulmonary resuscitation with a site-specific action plan.

Methods: A nurse-led quality improvement pilot project used partnerships to provide league access to automated external defibrillators, institute preseason SCA and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, and establish an emergency action plan for the league's volunteers. Anonymous pre- and post-training testing was conducted to measure participant knowledge, confidence, and willingness to respond to SCA. A cross-sectional survey, using a convenience sample of board members and coaches, evaluated sustainability of the intervention at midseason.

Intervention: Training targeted board members (Blue Shirts) to serve as leaders on the field during an SCA event and educated coaches on activating the emergency action plan.

Results: Blue Shirts and coaches showed significant (p < .05) improvement of knowledge, confidence, and willingness to respond to SCA after receiving the standardized preseason intervention; Blue Shirts' changes were sustained at midseason.

Conclusion: Nurses are ideal for helping youth sports leagues implement a sustainable SCA action plan based on best-practice recommendations for emergency health and safety.

Keywords: Emergency action plan; Quality improvement; Safety; Sudden cardiac arrest; Youth sports.