Life-Saving Measures: Sunset Lacrosse Club Leads Area Safety Initiatives

As part of its arrangement with US Lacrosse, Sunset committed to providing AEDs for all tournaments and jamborees in which it participates.

This article appears in the Pacific Northwest version of our November edition. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

Portland’s Sunset Lacrosse Club is a leader on and off the field. The club touts not only its championship-caliber environment, but also an open-door culture that prioritizes skill development, character and leadership.

Given that commitment, it was an easy decision last fall to follow US Lacrosse’s recommendation to have an automatic external defibrillator on every field. 

AEDs are portable and easy-to-use devices that deliver potentially life-saving defibrillation therapy quickly and effectively. They are the most effective treatment for sudden cardiac arrest and the only effective response to the rare but potentially catastrophic phenomenon of commotio cordis. 

“We realized we needed to have a documented safety plan,” said Brian Johnson, Sunset’s treasurer and a board member. “AEDs became a priority.”

Johnson found information about the US Lacrosse AED Grant Program. He connected with Lyn Porterfield, US Lacrosse director for the Pacific and Mountain regions. After going through the application process that she outlined, Sunset received an AED from US Lacrosse last December.

But the story doesn’t end there. Understanding the importance of having AED units on every field, Sunset committed to helping acquire an AED for each of the other boys’ and girls’ programs in the Tualatin Valley Youth Lacrosse League, which serves more than 1,000 players in grades 1-8. 

Johnson took the lead in coordinating the additional grant applications with US Lacrosse on behalf of the five other TVYL programs. “Our goal was to put AED units into play across the TVYL,” he said.

Sunset decided that the funds it had initially set aside to purchase an AED, which it still had due to US Lacrosse’s grant, should also be used to enhance its safety protocols. Sunset utilized that money to underwrite AED and CPR training for all of its coaches and for all coaches associated with TVYL teams.

“The money they saved by receiving the grant was used to support other programs in Portland with free training for any coach in the city,” said Bruce Griffin, director of US Lacrosse’s Center for Sport Science. “That’s a commendable example of leadership and the unity of the lacrosse community.”

As part of its arrangement with US Lacrosse, Sunset committed to providing AEDs for all tournaments and jamborees in which it participates.

“We wanted to make sure that these devices are out there as much as possible,” Johnson said. “We don’t want to just stick them in a closet.”

US Lacrosse provided eight AED units for TVYL teams. In return for its leadership in acquiring these AEDs, Sunset makes a simple request of its league brethren. “We ask them to spend some money from their budget on a safety-related initiative, and we ask them to develop an emergency action plan, just as we did,” Johnson said.

Sunset’s proactive approach has not gone unnoticed. “They have taken this on as their mission,” Porterfield said.

US Lacrosse’s Player’s Pulse initiative raises the funding needed for the AED grants, and fuels the national governing body’s commitment to making the sport safer for all. 

“With the support of visionary donors, we can work to guarantee that there is an AED on site to reach every victim within the critical four-to-six-minute window for survival,” said Michael Cather, vice president and chief relationship officer at US Lacrosse. “We have the technology to save people’s lives.”

There is still more work ahead. Sunset plans to organize additional AED and CPR trainings and invest in newer equipment, such as goalie chest protectors that meet the NOCSAE performance standard ND200.

“We’ve had a great reaction from parents and our community by adding AEDs to our safety plan and getting them on the field where kids are,” Johnson said. “We’d like to do more.”

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