Mirna Hussein & Joseph Habib
Lub dub, Lub dub……… Over the past two years, the American University of Beirut has witnessed two incidents of students suffering from a cardiac arrest on campus. In response, the University Student Faculty Committee (USFC) launched the “USFC’s Safer Campus Initiative,” which includes an awareness Moodle quiz and informative PowerPoint presentation followed by a free Champs Fund first aid training session upon scoring at least 8/10 on the quiz. This is available for all students!
The most recent case of student cardiac arrest on campus occurred last summer when a 19-year-old female nursing student, who was previously healthy with no history of cardiac disease, went into sudden cardiac arrest.
It was 4:00 p.m. and she was attending her sociology class in Nicely. On that day, two speakers were in the class to share their experience on the Civil War. Naturally, as outspoken as she was, the nursing student enthusiastically voiced her opinion. However, those in class could notice her voice wavering in an irregular fashion. Something was wrong. A blink of an eye later, she collapsed.
Silence consumed the room as everyone was in shock. No one could comprehend what had just happened. Seconds felt like minutes. The silence was broken when a loud voice screamed “Check her pulse!”
Theoretically, the fellow nursing students knew what had happened. Yet, on a practical level, no one knew how to intervene. Everyone felt so helpless. The closest AED was located in the Charles Hostler Student Center. Thankfully, one of the classmates happened to volunteer with the Red Cross and started CPR immediately. After about 20 to 30 minutes, she made it to AUBMC. Fifteen days later, she was able to join her BSN-4 classmates for the start of the fall semester.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart abruptly stops pumping, resulting in impeded blood flow to all organs. In fact, cardiac arrest has been ranked as the leading cause of death in the United States. The immediate intervention for people experiencing cardiac arrest is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) along with the use of defibrillators.
Many initiatives have arisen to tackle the issue, defining bold steps in advocating for a safe heart culture. Two of these great initiatives directly stemming from these tragic events, include The Remy Rebeiz Young Heart Association and CHAMPS FUND: The Hicham El Hage Program for Young Hearts and Athletes Health.
Champs Fund, an NGO established by the department of Family Medicine at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) has been conducting pre-participation examination including cardiac screening, for all athletes in schools, universities and professional teams in Lebanon. Champs Fund has also donated 14 defibrillators to be strategically placed all over campus. They have also trained key faculties/staff in buildings all around campus in basic CPR and AED use, along with many medical and nursing students.
A study published by Dr. Mazen El Sayed, the director of Emergency Medical Services at AUBMC, aimed to assess the knowledge of cardiac arrest in university students in Lebanon. He found that these students are familiar with the symptoms of cardiac arrest, however, they lack the confidence to perform CPR because they are poorly trained. Equally important, statistics show that a bystander triples the survival chances of the person in cardiac arrest.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that the bystander use three of the four links in the chain of survival. These three include:
- Early recognition of the emergency and activation of the emergency medical services. At AUB, you can dial 7777 immediately.
- Early bystander CPR.
- Early delivery of shock with a defibrillator as CPR and defibrillation within 3-5 min of collapse can increase survival rates as high as 49 to 75 percent.
The end goal of the “USFC’s Safer Campus Initiative” is to train students into becoming Life Savers. We look forward to turn not only our campus, but also our country into a safer place!