Scientists have documented a case of a 14-year-old girl who had a cardiac arrest at an overnight camp, which provides a roadmap of how to plan for a rare but often fatal event.
A healthy 14-year-old girl became unresponsive in her cabin, and a fellow camper who noticed began chest compressions after not finding a pulse.
Emergency medical services (EMS) arrived and used an automated external defibrillator before transporting her to hospital.
The teenaged patient had myocarditis, a common cause of cardiac arrest in the community and of sudden cardiac deaths in children. It peaks in early infancy and middle teenage years.
Thanks to an observant, conscientious camper who took immediate action and a quick EMS response, the girl survived and has a good prognosis, according to the study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
"Preparation for low-frequency, high-acuity emergencies are needed and should account for remote geography and prolonged EMS response times," said Herbert Brill from McMaster University, with co-authors.
"Pediatric out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is uncommon but may be under-reported owing to inadequate surveillance systems, publication bias or legal concerns," Brill added.
Medical emergencies at summer camps are rare but should be anticipated as they can be life-threatening.
"This case highlights the importance of early recognition and prompt initiation of effective compressions in the resuscitation of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, regardless of age," the authors wrote.
The authors recommend widespread CPR training for camp employees and older youth and automated external defibrillators in accessible locations to improve outcomes of cardiac arrest in camps.
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