AEDs in Schools

The incidence of cardiac arrest is not as high in the school-age population as it is in other segments of our society. Knowing this, some may raise questions over the efficacy of placing AEDs in our schools. The reasons are many.

♥The death of anyone, regardless of age, leaves a void in the lives of his survivors. However, the death of an aged person who is in failing health is somewhat easier to accept than the death of a child seemingly in the prime of life. The impact on the family, the school, his friends, and the entire community is not easily overcome. Most adults, especially those who are parents, place a high value on protecting the lives of children.

♥A host of undetected cardiac problems exist within any sizeable school population and some school activities (especially athletics) may exacerbate these difficultie

♥As many as one in five hundred children may suffer from cardiac myopathies in which the heart muscle is unusually thick. This  often undetected condition can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death. It may develop following a growth spurt and may be brought on by strenuous exercise.

♥Long QT Syndrome is a lengthening of the time it takes the heart to recharge its electrical system following each heartbeat. Long QT may run in families and can result in cardiac arrest.

♥Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome results in electrical signals reaching parts of the heart prematurely because of the development of an extra pathway. Rapid heart rhythm is the normal result but in rare instances, cardiac arrest may occur.

♥Commodio Cordis results from blunt impact to the chest during the repolarization phase of the cardiac cycle. The impact can be in the form of a baseball, softball, or lacrosse ball striking the chest of a healthy athlete

♥Even schools for young children have many adults present every day. Teachers, teachers’ aides, custodians, office staff, administrators, reading specialists, and parent volunteers are among those whose lives will be protected through placement of an AED.

♥Schools provide a natural placement option for public access defibrillation programs. Hospitals and other public buildings tend to be located in population centers. Schools are more uniformly distributed. Placing AEDs in them puts life saving technology nearer to those residents who are most likely to suffer long delays from EMS services.

♥Schools serve as central gathering points within the community. Whether it is parents attending a school concert or a school play or everyone in town attending a basketball or football game, it is hard to imagine an institution that more regularly attracts large numbers of people for extended periods of time.

♥There is educational value in placing AEDs in schools. Primary level teachers can make their pupils aware of what they are and how they are used by keeping the information very general. Secondary teachers can integrate CPR and AED instruction into the curriculum. The more familiar children are with AEDs, the greater the likelihood that they will use them in the event of a cardiac emergency.