Bernice O’Toole has had five children play sports at Somerton Youth Organization over the years.
In cases where a young player gets hit hard in the chest with a ball, or a coach or referee has sudden cardiac arrest, CPR or a call to 911 might be needed.
O’Toole, who is a nurse, has the experience to know more aid could be necessary.
“A defibrillator is most important,” she said.
O’Toole wanted SYO to obtain an automated external defibrillator for its athletic complex, at 1400 Southampton Road. She called the office of state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.), which contacted Holy Redeemer Health System.
Holy Redeemer agreed to donate a defibrillator and officials from the health system and SYO recently joined O’Toole and Boyle for the official dedication.
Boyle credited O’Toole with making it happen.
“One person can make a difference,” he said.
An abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation can cause cardiac arrest, which means that the heart has unexpectedly and abruptly stopped beating.
The only effective treatment for ventricular fibrillation is an electric shock called defibrillation, which is an electrical current — in the form of electrode pads — applied to a clean, dry, bare chest. The AED will provide voice prompts and messages.
The current helps the heart recognize the electrical activity so it can pump blood again.
When an AED administers an electric shock within three minutes of cardiac arrest, it can make the difference in reviving people. The defibrillation restores the normal rhythm to the victim’s heart and can increase survival rates from less than 5 percent to almost 75 percent. The rate increases to more than 90 percent following an immediate defibrillation.
O’Toole and Boyle pulled a red ribbon to mark the AED’s dedication on Sept. 11. SYO athletic director Fran Young and some young athletes attended the ceremony.
Russ Wagner, a Somerton resident, former SYO coach and chief financial officer at Holy Redeemer, said he hopes the AED, which hangs on a wall in the gym, never needs to be removed from its case. If it has to be activated, he is confident of a positive outcome.
“It definitely does help save lives,” he said. “Everybody should have one.”
Boyle said he approached Holy Redeemer to become a community partner because of a lack of funding for such initiatives at the state level.
The lawmaker believes AEDs can be effective at the local youth sports level up to NFL training camps.“These sorts of machines are absolutely needed,” he said. ••EndFragment