Badger News

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Kai Lermer was a young, vibrant, three-sport athlete at Waukesha North High School. Sadly in 2019 he also became a statistic, and one that is far too common among high school athletes. Kai collapsed while playing basketball with friends and passed away from sudden cardiac arrest.

Every year, an estimated 2,000 high school athletes across the U.S. lose their lives due to sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA. Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in student athletes and is often due to undiagnosed heart conditions. In March, 2022, Gov. Tony Evers signed into law the Kai Lermer Bill, intended to raise awareness of SCA in athletics.

According to Alec Johnson of JSOnline, “The bill will require the Wisconsin Department of Instruction to work with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and at least two pediatric cardiologists to educate coaches, athletes and parents about the nature and risk of sudden cardiac arrest during youth athletic activities.”

Of course, education is key, but so is response time. Studies show that a quick response by someone trained in CPR & AED can increase the likelihood of surviving an SCA event by threefold. Those are numbers worth paying attention to, and the more ‘first responders’ we have at any place at any time, the better.

The first week of June is CPR/AED Awareness Week in the U.S. Established in 2008, this week is set aside and heavily supported by the American Heart Association to raise awareness of the ability to save lives if we simply have more Americans trained in CPR and AED.

Responding to that need is CPR For All WI, a relatively new Southeast Wisconsin based-business offering flexible, onsite CPR, AED and First Aid training. CPR For All WI is owned and operated by Chris and Rebecca Franson. They are passionate about spreading knowledge of CPR, AED and First Aid, and, with four children who previously played club volleyball at Badger Region clubs, all the more so as it relates to young athletes who so often can be saved if someone responds quickly to an SCA event.

Chris explains that the risk to young athletes should not be underestimated. While undiagnosed heart conditions are often at fault for SCA in young athletes, a condition called Commotio Cordis is also a risk in certain sports. Cleveland Clinic defines it this way; “Commotio cordis is a condition in which an abnormal heart rhythm (ventricular fibrillation) and cardiac arrest happen immediately upon an object striking the chest directly over the heart at a very critical time during a heartbeat.”

Further, they state; “Can you survive commotio cordis? Yes, you can survive commotio cordis if you receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation (AED) right away.”

CPR For All WI offers flexible training options for groups of nearly any size, delivered anywhere in the state of Wisconsin, directly by Chris and Rebecca Franson and through their network of licensed trainers. Chris’ background includes 27 years as an Paramedic in Waukesha, as well as teaching those skills at Waukesha County Technical College. Rebecca has taught for 12 years, and is also a regional faculty advisor responsible for individuals who provide training for one of the Southeast Wisconsin districts of the American Heart Association, the licensing organization.

If you would like to learn more about CPR/AED and First Aid training, you can reach Rebecca and Chris Franson at 414-232-8836 or view their website at Rebecca reassures anyone who seeks training that Wisconsin’s “Good Samaritan” laws protect citizens who act in a critical care situation from lawsuits.

We ask a great deal of our Badger Region coaches, they adopt unusual schedules to accommodate practices and tournaments, they teach athletes not only volleyball skills, but how to win and lose gracefully, what it means to be a teammate, and other life skills. They must be ready to handle unforeseen circumstances on the court and with their team. Every club should consider how it can adopt the expectations placed on the youth sports by the Kai Lermer Bill and prepare our coaches, so they never face an SCA and have to say “I didn’t know what to do”.