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Playing It Safe

In December of 2013, PDGA Executive Director Brian Graham (#5861) boarded a plane bound for Reno, NV, home of the 2013 US Sports Congress. What started as just another flight would end up having an enormous impact on Graham and the staff he oversees. The plane had just pushed back from the gate and was taxiing towards the runway when, suddenly, the passenger sitting behind Graham began convulsing and quickly went into cardiac arrest.

Other passengers seated nearby acted quickly and gently laid him on the floor in the aisle. An EMT that happened to be on board made his way to the unconscious passenger to check his vitals. The situation became even more intense when the EMT announced what everyone was hoping not to hear. The passenger was no longer breathing, and had no pulse. The EMT immediately started CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on the passenger by repeatedly and rapidly pressing down on his chest. This helps to preserve brain function by forcing blood to move throughout the body when the heart can no longer do so on its own.

Flight attendants retrieved an AED (Automated External Defibrillation) device from the back of the plane and brought it over to the EMT. As the plane began to make its way back towards the gate the EMT fired up the AED device and went to work. By the time the plane was parked at the gate and emergency repsonders began to board, the passenger’s pulse and breathing had been restored. Thanks to a helpful EMT that knew CPR and knew how to use an AED device, a tragedy was averted, and a life was saved.

AED devices are used to reestablish an effective beating rhythm for the heart thorugh defibrillation. Defibrillation, in short, is the process of delivering an electrical shock to the heart. It’s the machine you probably associate with doctors and nursing standing over a patient and yelling “Clear!” while holding paddles to the patient’s chest. As of 2004, all commerical planes are required to have at least one AED device on board of every flight. 

Upon return from the US Sports Congress, Events Manager Michael Downes (#13898) was tasked with scheduling first aid training for all of the PDGA’s employees. All the PDGA staff members at PDGA headquarters have been trained for basic first aid and are CPR and AED device certified. The International Disc Golf Center purchased two new AED devices with help from the AED Grant program provided by American CPR Training. One of the devices is located at the International Disc Golf Center in Appling, GA and the other is loaded up and ready to go in the PDGA Tour trailer.

The trailer makes it way around the country to nearly all of the National Tour and Major events during disc golf season. As these events continue to grow in players, volunteers, and spectators, so does the need for better safety and secrurity measures. This is just a small step towards that goal, but it’s a small step that could potentially save a life.

We want to thank American CPR Training for putting together their AED Grant Program, without which, we wouldn’t have the life-saving equipment we now have for the tour season and for the IDGC. American CPR Training offers a variety of safety and first aid courses all over the country. If you're interested in becoming CPR and/or AED certified, contact them directly for more information.


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