OP-ED: Central Pa. youth baseball needs support for live-saving equipment

Tim Colgan
In this file photo, Red Land celebrates a home run against Japan in the Little League World Series Championship game Sunday August 30, 2015. John A. Pavoncello - jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com

Our community is quite fortunate to have so many vibrant and active youth baseball organizations. They do an incredible job, using the resources available to them, to create the opportunity for children to learn the fundamentals of baseball in a fun, safe and positive environment.

However, as nonprofit organizations, they must rely heavily on the generosity of the local community to keep their programs running. Unfortunately, this often leaves them with less than adequate resources to purchase necessary, even life-saving, equipment. Among the most important being Automated External Defibrillator (AED) units.

If the consequences of not having AED units readily available on our youth baseball fields do not seem urgent, consider this staggering statistic. Interruption of the heart is the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in youth ages 9 to 18 but can occur in children as young as age 5.

An alarming 61 percent of these cases are caused by blunt force trauma to the chest wall from the impact of a baseball. The survival rate for this event is less than 40 percent without the availability of an AED unit.

Time is critical, and EMS is not always readily available.

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Looking at Dillsburg Youth Baseball as just one example, prior to 2018 they did not have a single AED unit available on their fields. That’s 500-plus games played yearly on nine different fields at four separate locations. Again, considering the statistics, we as parents, community members and spectators should feel concerned and compelled to assist with changing this reality.

In order to keep the safety of our youth, coaches, and spectators the top priority, we must step up to support our youth baseball organizations to ensure this essential medical equipment is adequately available wherever our youth play.

The average cost of an AED unit is approximately $1,000, and Dillsburg Youth Baseball should have, at minimum, five units. Now think of this need multiplied across all of our youth baseball organizations! This goal cannot be reached without community support.

I cannot overemphasize the fact that Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes. If a victim receives defibrillation through an AED unit within the first minute, the survival rate is 90 percent. Making sure we have AED units available at all youth baseball fields will help lower the risks for all involved.

Dillsburg Youth Baseball, and all of our youth baseball organizations, provide such a great experience and atmosphere for the players and their families. It should be extremely important to us that these organizations are able to continue to offer opportunities to children in the safest environment possible. If we can work together within our communities, and step up to fund AED units on every field, we will ensure that players, coaches, umpires and fans will get the immediate, life-saving help they need if there is ever a cardiac emergency at a game or practice.

I urge you, whether you are a parent, coach, spectator or simply a member of the community, to support our youth baseball organizations in a way that could change a life, or many, by funding more AED units.

— Tim Colgan is a youth baseball supporter, parent and former coach. Hi son, Sean, played in Dillsburg Youth Baseball for many years and is now a senior in high school who has umpired for DYB or the last three years.