The one lesson a Richmond doctor wants you to learn from the Bronny James health scare

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jul 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-01 10:43:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- When Bronny James survived after he suffered a cardiac arrest at basketball practice at the University of Southern California last week, a thought crossed Dr. John Phillips' mind.

As Director of Pediatric Electrophysiology at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR), Dr. Phillips knows the difference between life and death can be a matter of minutes.

"I think it just emphasizes the importance of us all being prepared," Dr. Phillips said about the quick intervention with CPR and an automated external defibrillator or AED, both of which James reportedly received. "The high profile cases like Bronny James, come to your attention and to the community's attention. But, this can happen in your town, small town, big town, anywhere."

"After four minutes of receiving neither CPR nor defibrillation, then your chances of recovering and even surviving are much, much less," said Phillips, who added the out-of-hospital survival rates for cardiac arrest patients is around 8% for children and less than 10% for adults in areas that are not prepared.

And working to make sure places are prepared for cardiac arrest is something he is focused on as the Virginia lead for Project ADAM, a national program that works to help schools become what's known as "heart safe", which he first spoke to CBS 6 about in January following the cardiac arrest of Buffalo Bills' player Damar Hamlin.

"You never know when one of these events is going to happen or where will happen," he said. "When you're in a location that is prepared for sudden cardiac arrest, like at a gym, like at a high school, or in this case, a college, that survival rate improves dramatically. And that's why we're pushing this right."

Doctor shows how to save a life with CPR and an AED

Since the program launched in November, Phillips said five schools in Virginia have passed the program. He said 15 more schools, including some in Central Virginia, are in the process.

In Virginia, a law went into effect this year that required all schools to create AED plans and install the machines, something the four major divisions in Central Virginia said they already do.

But Phillips said the training goes beyond what the law requires schools to do and has to meet 14 checkpoints.

"It's broken down into having an AED and having it prepared, ready, maintenanced. Also, having a team of folks at your school who are trained in CPR and AED use, as well as recognition of sudden cardiac arrest and then practice," said Phillips. "It's where folks are most practiced that the survivability and the results from sudden cardiac arrest are going to be the best."

Phillips said the program is available to not only schools but also sports teams and church groups.

"Now is the time for everyone to take five minutes to learn hands-only CPR, to educate themselves about what an automated external defibrillator is and how easy it is to use," he said. "We never know when these events will occur. And if you're there, you can hopefully save a life."

More information about CHoR's Project ADAM program can be found here.

To show how quickly you can learn hands-only CPR, Dr. Phillips gave CBS 6's Cameron Thompson a demonstration. You can see the video below and learn for yourself:

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