Portland’s Sunset Lacrosse Club strives to be a leader both on and off the field. The club’s mantra stresses a championship caliber environment, an open door for competition and the development of skills, character and leadership.

Given that commitment, it seemed like an easy decision last fall to adopt US Lacrosse’s recommendation to have an AED on every field. 

Automated External Defibrillators (AED) are portable and easy-to-use devices that deliver potentially life-saving defibrillation therapy quickly and effectively. They are, in fact, the most effective treatment for sudden cardiac arrest and the only effective response to the rare but potentially catastrophic phenomenon of commotio cordis. 

“We consistently try to create a better organization and raise our program to the next level,” said Brian Johnson, Sunset’s treasurer and a board member. “We realized that we needed to have a documented safety plan, and soon, AEDs became a priority.”

While researching the AED purchasing process, Johnson found some information about US Lacrosse’s AED grant program. He connected with Lyn Porterfield, US Lacrosse’s regional director for the Pacific and Mountain regions, to learn more.  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 to acquire an AED for each of the other boys’ and girls’ programs in the Tualatin Valley Youth Lacrosse League, which serves over 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 its AEDs for all tournaments and jamborees in which the club participates. At a minimum, that’s at least five events each season.

“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.”

Through the leadership of Sunset Lacrosse and Johnson’s direct efforts, US Lacrosse has provided eight AED units for TVYL teams to date. 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 (EAP), just as we did,” Johnson said.

Sunset’s proactive approach in spreading the safety message has not gone unnoticed.

“They have taken this on as their mission. It’s so impressive to see what they are doing,” Porterfield said. 

US Lacrosse has been a willing partner in this effort. The organization’s Player’s Pulse initiative raises the funding needed for the AED grants, and fuels USL’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. We have the technology to save people’s lives,” said Michael Cather, vice president and chief relationship officer at US Lacrosse.

Johnson believes that there is still more work ahead. Sunset has plans for additional AED and CPR trainings in the future, and an investment in newer equipment, such as goalie chest protectors that meet the NOCSAE performance standard ND200, is in progress.

“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.”

Discounted AEDs for Purchase

In addition to the AED grant program, US Lacrosse has partnered with One Beat to provide significantly discounted AED devices, with some units offered for less than $1,000.

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