17 year old Claire Dunlap is lucky to be alive.
"I don't remember the trip to West Boca High School. I don't remember playing in the game," she said.
Nearly two years ago, Claire was comotosed after collapsing on a high school softball field.
Her mother, Patti watched her daughter fall from the bleachers.
"I couldn't believe it, I thought it was some sort of seizure. I just thought it had to be something else, I never envisioned it could be sudden cardiac arrest," she said.
Claire's mother attributes her daughters survival to an automated external defibrillator or A-E-D, it's a life saving device the size of a lap top.
"Had it not been for Claire playing at West Boca with an A-E-D available to her she would not be here today," she said.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart, unexpectedly, stops beating.
According to the American Heart Association, the condition kills more people than breast cancer, lung cancer and AIDS, combined.
Yet, the machine credited with giving victims up to a 90% chance of survival, is far from saving the number of lives it could say many experts.
"They're not everywhere, I wish they were," said Jamie Schilling, an CPR/AED instructor with the American Red Cross.
"We have one of the weakest placement laws from a statewide point of view," said Elliot Fisch, who sells portable A-E-D's for a living. Fisch also leads the Florida chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, a non-profit working to educate communities about the importance of having A-E-D's available in public places.
The Contact 5 Investigators searched the laws in other states and found in New York, AED's are required in all public school buildings,-
public swimming pools and health clubs.
Actually, gyms in, at least 6 states, including Washington DC must all be equipped with defibrillators.
Yet, in Florida, A-E-D's are only required in dentists offices, public schools with high school athletics and, most recently, assisted living facilities, which means gyms aren't required to be equipped with A-E-D's nor are golf courses, even though sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer there.
West Palm Beach attorney, Craig Goldenfarb has worked on dozens of cases where people died because an A-E-D was not available. Goldenfarb believes if Florida law required more businesses to be equipped with portable defibrillators, fewer people would die of sudden cardiac arrest.
The Contact 5 Investigators visited several local businesses including gyms, golf courses, hotels and a mall. We found most of these businesses were equipped with A-E-D's, however at some locations, it took several minutes for the employee to verify an A-E-D was available, critical moments when every second counts.
"An A-E-D doesn't do anybody any good if noone knows where it is in your time of need," said Elliot Fisch.
Claire Dunlap is now a senior, she's back playing ball. A defibrillator-like device is implanted in her chest."
"I think it's like a battle wound, I survived this, I can do so much more," she said.
The question remains will other sudden cardiac arrest victims in Florida get the chance to feel the same way.
"There is no consistency, if you go into cardiac arrest you got to be lucky," said Fisch.
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W . Scripps Company and Angie's List
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