Did you know that thousands of school age children nationally die from sudden cardiac arrest every year? Only 5 to 10 percent of these children survive without some type of immediate treatment. This is why having automated external defibrillators (AED) available on school campuses can make the difference between life and death. It is simply a lightweight device that can help bring back a normal heart beat, and can increase the survival rate of cardiac victims by 50 percent.
In an effort to ensure that schools are equipped and trained to use AEDs, Children’s of Alabama offers Alabama LifeStart, a program modeled after the Adam Project. Alabama is one of the many states that have adapted this program, which is currently led by co-medical directors Dr. Austin Kane and Dr. Khalisa Syeda of UAB. Because of Alabama LifeStart, Children’s of Alabama, and the financial support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, approximately 400 schools in Alabama have received an AED device. Every public middle, junior and senior high school in the state is equipped with at least one AED. One of the many companies Children’s partners with to provide the equipment to schools is AED Brands. Like others, they offer information that can be helpful when purchasing an AED.
In Alabama, AEDs on school campuses have helped save the lives of several students. One example of a lifesaving story is that of a student at John Sparkman High School in Morgan County who collapsed during a basketball game. Due to the quick response of trained school personnel, she was brought back to life with an AED.
Unfortunately, not all faculty, staff and students know how to use the devices quickly in a sudden cardiac emergency. Most schools also do not provide more than one device, which may not be easily accessible where an incident may occur. With training resources readily available from Alabama LifeStart, more lives may be saved by improving the ability to respond quickly and effectively to a cardiac arrest. Those schools that meet special requirements are named a Heart Safe School by the program. They install the recommended number of AED devices on campus and utilize Alabama LifeStart’s free resources to incorporate the training into their student health or physical education curriculum. To date 62 Alabama schools have accomplished this honor.
If your school is interested in becoming a Heart Safe School by Alabama LifeStart, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Program Director John Stone at Children’s at (205) 638-6769.