Complacency is the Common Reason of Most Negligence Cases

The parents of a teenager from Long Island who died after he went into sudden cardiac arrest at a cross country meet in Western New York are now suing Erie County, a local fire department, and others for wrongful death.

Ronan Guyer was 14 years old in November 2012, when he competed at the State Cross Country Championships held at the Elma Meadows Golf Course. During a practice run, he slipped and fell into the mud. The fall on his chest caused sudden cardiac arrest, according to his family. Ronan died at Women and Children’s Hospital five days later.

In a newly-filed lawsuit, Ronan’s father claims the defendants “did not have appropriate medical personnel and / or an automated external defibrillator on site at the time of Ronan’s collapse and did not otherwise provide assistance to him.”

Named in the suit are Erie County, which owns the golf course that served as the race’s venue; Jamison Road Volunteer Fire Company, which the suit alleges did not provide ambulance service to the event; the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA), which sanctioned the championship; Section VI of the NYSPHSAA; and the Southold Union Free School District on Long Island where Ronan was a student-athlete.

Each defendant is accused of negligence and wrongful death.

The lawsuit claims the 14-year-old “suffered severe personal injuries and experienced conscious pain and suffering, including psychological and emotional fear of his death.” That would be key to any possible damages, according to Roland Cercone, an attorney who specializes in civil law.

In the suit, the father makes two key allegations of liability — that an automated external defibrillator was not provided at the event and that an ambulance was not on site.

According to NYSPHSAA’s website, a state law from 2002 requires that for an athletic event held off school grounds, “public school officials must assure that AED equipment is provided on-site.”

As for the ambulance service, the lawsuit says “Jamison (Volunteer Fire Company) was contacted to provide an ambulance at Elma Meadows Golf Course on the day Ronan collapsed” and “negligently failed to attend.” It also alleges the fire company’s negligence “caused the Championships to proceed without an ambulance on site, which would have prevented Ronan’s injury.”

Cercone says the key to this suit will be medical testimony proving the teen’s death could have been prevented with an AED and/or ambulance service. “Negligence alone is not enough, you need causation,” Cercone said.

2 On Your Side reached out to all of the defendants for comment.

Section VI referred us to NYSPHSAA. A media spokesperson said the executive director would get back with us, but that has yet to happen. A message to the association’s attorney has not been returned.

The superintendent for the Southold Union Free School District said in an email, “I have no comment at this time.”

A call to the workplace of the fire company’s president was not returned Monday.

A spokesperson for Erie County responded with a statement that reads, “While Elma Meadows was the venue for the event, the event you are referring to was held by the NYS Public High School Athletic Association. Prior to the event, Erie County required that they procure insurance naming Erie County as an additional insured, which they did. Accordingly, Erie County is being provided with contractual defense & indemnification in this case under the insurance policy.”

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Thursday, February 6th, 2014 Event No Comments

Knowing that the AED is also a Diagnostic Tool can Help Prevent this Tragedy

A Fort Bend student is on a ventilator after collapsing in gym class. While his parents maintain their bedside vigil, they wonder if more could’ve been done in the moments surrounding his collapse.

Doctors tell the family if the boy recovers, he’ll likely be in a semi-vegetative state. They don’t yet know why the boy collapsed, but they question how the school responded.

Sheila Chan is just beside herself.

“He’s not going to be the same,” she said.

The Missouri City mother has spent every day for a week at Texas Children’s Hospital hoping for a miracle for her 12-year-old son Dustin.

“He’s a good child,” Chan said.

The seventh-grade honors student was in gym class last week at Dulles Middle School when he collapsed, and his family believes precious minutes afterwards were wasted.

“Something should have been done, not just standing there,” Dustin’s uncle, Huy Tran, said.

From what they’ve been able to piece together, they say the coach called for the nurse who responded with an EPI pen. The principal also was there as they all waited for an ambulance. But even as it seemed Dustin was struggling to breathe, they say no one performed CPR or used a defibrillator that was nearby.

“I think in my heart they didn’t do what they’re supposed to do for Dustin,” Chan said.

On Tuesday, Dulles Middle School principal Michael Heinzen sent parents the following letter:

“Our hearts are deeply saddened that one of our middle school students suffered a medical emergency last week. Our main concern is for the student and his family, and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.

“Upon initial review, it appears emergency procedures were followed in providing the student assistance until advanced medical support arrived. We will continue to collaborate with local emergency and medical personnel in an effort to maintain the safety and security of our students.

“If you have any questions, please call me at (281) 634-5750.”

With Dustin in ICU on a ventilator and with brain damage, his mother doesn’t accept that and fears it could happen again.

“I don’t want another family to go through what I go through right now. We need to save all the kids’ lives,” Chan said.

Both the nurse and the principal have visited Dustin at the hospital.

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Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 Event No Comments

Death of 13-Year Old at Temasek Junior College

Checking with the Crowdsav portal after another recent death, the nearby AEDs can be seen here. These include Bedok Community Centre and an NKF Dialysis Centre.
Temasek JC 012014

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Friday, January 17th, 2014 Event No Comments

Death of 16-Year Old at Tanglin Secondary School

Checking with the Crowdsav platform, the 2 nearest AEDs to Tanglin Secondary School ( after the recent death there ) are at Wilhelmsen Ships Service (S) Pte Ltd and Clementi Stadium.
Tanglin Sec 012014

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Friday, January 17th, 2014 Event No Comments

Another AED Not Used Contributing to Loss of Life

A senior at St. Charles North High School, Lauren was practicing with the varsity drill team in February 2008 when she collapsed on the cafeteria floor from sudden cardiac arrest.

The Laman Family

The Laman Family

Although an AED had been located just 40 feet from where she collapsed and paramedics found the device next to her when they arrived more than 12 minutes after the call, the AED was never used. Lauren was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Despite being surrounded by teammates, coaches and school staff, no one did the one thing that could have saved Lauren’s life.

“I cannot accept that,” said her mother, Mary Laman. “She should be here celebrating her birthday … . She should be celebrating Christmas.”

Mary recalled learning the Heimlich maneuver when she was in high school. While at the time she didn’t think much of the training, it wasn’t until her husband was choking years later that Mary saw the importance and was able to react.

The same could be said for teaching how to use an AED and training ongoing generations. “The results would be tremendous,” George said.

George, who worked as a paramedic for 11 years, understands the importance of time.

“It’s frustrating for paramedics to be unable to reach, treat and defibrillate a cardiac patient in time to afford them a good chance to survive,” he said. “Those precious minutes that Lauren laid on the floor without defibrillation, especially with the AED just feet away from her, makes our story especially sad. We can’t have those minutes back. We can’t have Lauren back. Hopefully, this terrible experience will help pass this bill and provide a change so others do not needlessly die.”

“My family made a promise that we would do everything in our power to prevent this from happening to anyone else,” he added.

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Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 Event No Comments

Lost Opportunity when AED not Used, so Potentially Liable

A defibrillator was 30 feet away from the 15-year old who died last weekend while playing a pickup basketball game. An autopsy revealed Antwon Whitehead died of heart failure after collapsing on the court at Carver High School on Saturday afternoon.

Georgia state law requires defibrillators in every public school. Carver High School’s is located in the training room next to the gym. The law only requires schools to have one, it doesn’t require people to use it in certain situations.

There were two coaches present when Whitehead collapsed on the side of the court. One of them performed CPR on Whitehead.

The Director of Athletics at Muscogee County School District, Dr. Gary Gibson says the coaches followed protocol.

“It’s not an easy call,” says Gibson. “These coaches first mindset is, if I can do the CPR, this is what I’ve always done, I’m comfortable with it, and so that’s what they go to.”

Defibrillators have only been in public schools since 2009 so they haven’t necessarily been at the top of everyone’s mind, especially in high-stress situations. Officials are working with schools to educate and raise awareness about the presence of the defibrillators and how to use them.

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Saturday, September 28th, 2013 Event No Comments