Automated External Defibrillators, commonly known as an AED, have saved thousands of lives since their formal induction into the world outside of hospitals and ambulances. Every place from apartment buildings to airports to shopping malls are investing in AEDs and keeping them on hand in the event they should need to be used in order to save a life. Having an AED at your child’s school is an invaluable insurance policy - although no one may ever need the AED, it is there in case someone—regardless of age—enters into cardiac arrest. Along with this popularity in personal and public locations all over the world, many schools have adopted defibrillator policies and are placing AEDs alongside of the tongue depressors in the nurse’s office.
AEDs are lightweight, portable devices that can jumpstart a victim’s heart by using an electrical pulse called a biphasic shock. Guiding the rescuer with a combination of simple and clear voice, text and graphical instructions, AEDs do nearly all of the work, enabling practically anyone save a life!
Several states have gone so far as to pass legislation requiring schools to have an AED under their roofs, according to Start A Heart, an AED resource Web site. This is critical to ensure the safety and health of the students currently attending that specific school. You should speak with the principal or administration at your child’s school to see if that specific school houses an AED or if they fall under the legislation. One such state that has passed legislation is the state of New York. Passed in May of 2002, this legislation requires all public schools to come equipped with an Automated External Defibrillator. Each school is required to purchase an AED in addition to having trained staff on hand that is completely knowledgeable on how to work the defibrillator.
The legislation may not specify regarding this training, but generally schools that have an AED on the campus will encourage educators to become trained into how to work the AED. This is especially important, since more than one individual should be completely aware on how to work the defibrillator in case of emergency and the school nurse or trained individual is not to be found. By training several faculty members of any school, the time required to find an individual knowledgeable enough on how to use the AED is dramatically cut, which can directly affect the individual suffering from the heart related problem. Although it may seem like overkill, many schools offer special incentives to teachers who enroll in an AED training program in order to be able to help in the event of an emergency.
Parents don’t always realize that children can suffer from heart problems and might require the assistance of an AED. Many still remember the tragic death from star basketball player Hank Gathers, who collapsed and died of a heart attack during a college basketball game. His death has served as a reminder that even seemingly healthy youngsters can be at risk for heart failure.
Having an AED located directly within the school will allow the child to have a much better survival rate, since he or she will not have to wait a great deal of time between when the medical emergency actually occurs and when the paramedics arrive on the scene. With an AED on hand, an informed individual will be able to directly administer medical assistance that may allow the child to survive until the medial professionals arrive. If your child’s school does not have an AED on hand, consider starting a fundraiser program so that the school will have the necessary funds for purchasing an AED.
Larry Mitchell is a San Francisco based author.