Competitive ballroom is demanding; cardiac events and the need to address them at comps

Akita

Well-Known Member
#1
Unfortunately one of my competitors at Nationals had a heart attack and collapsed in the ballroom right after we finished dancing Quickstep. Several doctors who were in the ballroom frantically performed CPR on him and managed to revive him. He was rushed to the hospital. Hopefully he makes a full recovery.

This is actually the second time I've seen a competitor have a heart attack in the ballroom. (That's why they make you sign a release waiver before permitting you to compete.)

Some research on the physical effects of competitive ballroom ...
  • University of Freiburg study in 1986: exertion and breathing rates of dancesport athletes performing a single dance were the same as cyclists, swimmers and 800m runners over the same two minute period.
  • University of Oxford 1988: level of fitness of championship dancesport competitors is the same as Olympic decathletes; a dancer performing a two minute Viennese Waltz experiences the same exertion level as that experienced by an Olympic 100m hurdler.
  • Peter Pover, former President US Dancesport Council stated that tests in Germany “found no significant athletic difference between running 800 metres and doing the quickstep for 1.5mins” Sports Illustrated 1995.
  • Medical research has shown that dancesport is comparable with other sporting activities such as basketball, squash and cross country running with dancers performing at over 80% of their maximum oxygen consumption level and burning up at least 300 calories per hour (Blanksby & Reidy, 1988 British Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol 22, Issue 2, 57-60: Heart rate and estimated energy expenditure during ballroom dancing)
  • Dancing used by a Mexican cardiologist Dr Hermes Ilarraza for heart disease patients. Patients did 30 minutes of dancing over five weeks for five days per week and increased their exercise capacity by about a third.
  • New England Journal of Medicine in 2003 reported that elderly people who danced frequently had a 76% lower chance of developing dementia.
 

JudeMorrigan

Well-Known Member
#2
Unfortunately one of my competitors at Nationals had a heart attack and collapsed in the ballroom right after we finished dancing Quickstep. Several doctors who were in the ballroom frantically performed CPR on him and managed to revive him. He was rushed to the hospital. Hopefully he makes a full recovery.
There was an announcement during the Sunday evening session. I'm afraid the gentleman didn't make it.
 

Bailamosdance

Well-Known Member
#4
How sad. This calls for a medical presence in every event of this type… after all, some people consider this Olympic quality sports.
 

Akita

Well-Known Member
#5
At a minimum there should have been a defibrillator available. One of the doctors was running around trying to find one in the hotel. One of my German friends said that all DanceSport events in Germany he's participated in, have an ambulance and EMTs standing by.
 
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fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
#6
I have been on the floor in the same heat when a gentleman had a heart attack....thank goodness there was also a former paramedic in the room because it was during the chicago rush hour and it took forever for the ambulance to arrive...and I ran around the building like a chicken with my head cut off and couldn't find an AED anywhere...I know the guy made it to the hospital and do not think he died immediately, but I have no real idea whether or not he ever recovered.... we have had at least one or two pros die in recent years on the floor...we do need to take this danger more seriously....I think at the very least someone should know where the hotel AED is (preferably having it in the ballroom) and one member of the comp team should have to be CPR certified
 

3wishes

Well-Known Member
#7
Agreed. And condolences for the souls who were lost at competitions. AED equipment should only be administered by qualified personal. Given my background, when I began competitive dancing I have to admit, I was shocked and still surprised - that regardless of small/large dance competitions - there remains a lack of emergency staff/and the minimum knowledge of organizers/hotel staff as to where available, if any, equipment is located (yes, I'm aware of all the pros/cons).
There will remain second guesses, should have, would have and could have(s) - in hindsight - human nature.
Prayers for those who have left us and their family members.
 

Cal

Well-Known Member
#8
I have been on the floor in the same heat when a gentleman had a heart attack....thank goodness there was also a former paramedic in the room because it was during the chicago rush hour and it took forever for the ambulance to arrive...and I ran around the building like a chicken with my head cut off and couldn't find an AED anywhere...I know the guy made it to the hospital and do not think he died immediately, but I have no real idea whether or not he ever recovered.... we have had at least one or two pros die in recent years on the floor...we do need to take this danger more seriously....I think at the very least someone should know where the hotel AED is (preferably having it in the ballroom) and one member of the comp team should have to be CPR certified
Yes, the gentleman at the Chicago competition did recover, due in no small part to the efforts of those in the ballroom who stepped forward to respond and assist. The gentleman has returned to competition as well. Great spirit on his part!
 

danceronice

Well-Known Member
#9
Agreed. And condolences for the souls who were lost at competitions. AED equipment should only be administered by qualified personal. Given my background, when I began competitive dancing I have to admit, I was shocked and still surprised - that regardless of small/large dance competitions - there remains a lack of emergency staff/and the minimum knowledge of organizers/hotel staff as to where available, if any, equipment is located (yes, I'm aware of all the pros/cons).
There will remain second guesses, should have, would have and could have(s) - in hindsight - human nature.
Prayers for those who have left us and their family members.
I remember that night at Harvest Moon (I was on my way to the ballroom and arrived when they'd tried to close/clear it and you could see out the window that traffic was just a nightmare-about 6pm near O'Hare.) I'm surprised the hotel didn't have an AED-the whole point of them is if you follow the written and audio directions, pretty much anyone can use them because they will not work unless they're needed-ie, an arythmia, not a flatline. At my current job we have them, front and back of house. The first responders (EMT-qualified Security, we have one per shift at our location) are supposed to use them but if it comes down to it, anyone CAN and we're supposed to know where they are just like we know where fire extinguishers and alarms are. Which is a good thing as it once took twenty minutes for paramedics to arrive for an elderly man with a head injury (the FR on that shift was peeved. The man was okay in the end but really?) At the museum we had one at the desk and all the professional staff (ie the director, me, and the designer) had keys to the case. For a HOTEL, with that many guests in varying states of health? One per floor would seem more reasonable than "I think we have one? Maybe? I don't know where it is."
 

Wannabee

Well-Known Member
#10
AED's are actually meant to be used by laypersons in the community. They are not hard to use and are almost fool-proof. They have verbal instructions (hence you don't even have to be able to read) and pictures indicating where everything goes, etc. They are invaluable, life-saving devices and if the hotels do not have one or supply one, it might be a wise investment for the comp organizers to be sure one is on-hand in the ballroom. The organizers might even be able to get one for free from a local cardiovascular hospital, etc. Hospitals have been known to do things like that. Or perhaps they may offer one in exchange for a small spot in the program.
 

Bailamosdance

Well-Known Member
#11
This is an important issue… remember, it could be YoU who needs medical attention at a competition. When you are in distress, will you be consoled by an organizer telling you it costs too much money to have someone on site?
 

llamasarefuzzy

Well-Known Member
#12
Very sad, I am sorry to hear it. Thoughts to his family and friends.

However, I don't find it surprising that there are some incidents of cardiac events during these competitions. Just out of interest, I have been monitoring my heart rate during rounds/practice and things. I've found that it often reaches the mid-upper 180s during qs/vw... not dissimilar to what I have when I am running. Combine this with the fact that (at least in my experience) cardiovascular conditioning isn't emphasized until a higher level, and ballroom attracts people of all ages/fitness levels/ etc, some incidence of cardiac events should be expected.

An interesting issue USADance/NDCA/etc might consider is having an EMT/paramedic, or designated personal (eg a doctor who happens to be dancing for the event) on call during the event- I know this is de rigour for other sports, so it might be worthwhile to look into
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
#16
Agreed. And condolences for the souls who were lost at competitions. AED equipment should only be administered by qualified personal. Given my background, when I began competitive dancing I have to admit, I was shocked and still surprised - that regardless of small/large dance competitions - there remains a lack of emergency staff/and the minimum knowledge of organizers/hotel staff as to where available, if any, equipment is located (yes, I'm aware of all the pros/cons).
There will remain second guesses, should have, would have and could have(s) - in hindsight - human nature.
Prayers for those who have left us and their family members.
I am qualified to use an AED
 

Akita

Well-Known Member
#17
This is why Gumbo always has an AED on standby - in fact one of their competitors had a heart attack 2 years ago and they used an AED to revive him. He made a full recovery and danced 4 months later at the Carolina Classic.

It should be a requirement for all NQEs and the Nationals to have an AED available onsite.
 

Bailamosdance

Well-Known Member
#19
Why oh why was it not part of the contract with the hotel to have one in the ballroom? Somebody has to fight for us competitors...
 
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fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
#20
hotels already have AEDS for the entire hotel...they aren't required to be near the ballroom....but, someone on staff should know where it is and how to use it...AEDs are usually in fixed locations where local fire departments can come and inspect them/the batteries on a regular basis and where hotel staff can readily find them...it would not be likely that a hotel would purchase an extra one or allow the ones that are there to be moved when not in use....the burden for them is to have AEDS in the building where THEIR staff knows to locate and use them....anything further would be on the organizer...to either have their own or to know where the hotel's was and how to use it
 

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