AEDs save kids

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

One tragic death, one tragedy averted.

Alan Zapata, 11, died last week after collapsing at an indoor soccer game in Provo ("Provo boy who collapsed at soccer game dies," Tribune, Jan. 11). His family reports he suffered what the medical world calls sudden cardiac death.

Last December, Danny Berger, 22, a basketball player for Utah State University, suffered the same catastrophic event. He is alive today, due to a perfectly executed emergency action plan and prompt access to an automated external defibrillator, commonly called an AED.

The coaches of Zapata's team also acted appropriately, starting immediate CPR. But the most effective way to save a life in sudden cardiac death is by using an AED, a device that unfortunately was not available until the ambulance arrived.

Sudden cardiac death in athletes is a rare but extremely tragic occurrence. Utah does not currently require AEDs at gyms or recreation facilities. No one can say with certainty that early defibrillation would have saved Alan's life, but it may have. We need to seriously consider placing an AED in any facility where kids are active. There is no downside.

Amy P. Powell, M.D. Team physician, University of Utah

Salt Lake City