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Heart Saving Solutions for Education


Why do schools need AEDs?

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) — or massive heart attack — as it is sometimes known, which kills 450,000 people in the U.S. alone each year, can strike anyone: your students, staff, faculty or visitors. Even a seemingly healthy person can suffer cardiac arrest without warning. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), as many as 50% of SCA victims have no prior indication of heart disease — their first symptom is cardiac arrest.

The only definitive treatment for SCA is a defibrillation shock — an electrical pulse through the heart — which restores a normal heart rhythm. The chance of an SCA victim's survival decreases by 10 percent with every minute that passes, so in order to be effective, defibrillation treatment must be administered within the first few minutes of SCA.

In its publication, "Guidelines 2000 for CPR and Emergency Cardiac Care," the AHA recommends defibrillation within 3-5 minutes for emergency response outside the hospital. Recently published studies in the New England Journal of Medicine further support that recommendation, with results that show a 74 percent survival rate for victims defibrillated within three minutes.

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Why can't we just call 911?

There is a very good chance emergency medical services (EMS) cannot respond fast enough to save someone in cardiac arrest. In fact, the national average response time is 10-12 minutes, so even the best EMS responders could have difficulty arriving in time. Besides traffic, consider the time needed to make it to a patient's side on a remote athletic field or in a crowded auditorium, for example. AEDs offer a practical way to save more lives because they are designed for use by nearly anyone. Widespread deployment of AEDs in educational and athletic facilities gives SCA victims the best chance of survival.

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Who can help my organization implement an AED program?

There are several factors to consider when implementing an AED program, such as the selection of an AED, lay-rescuer training, physician oversight, determining optimal placement and developing ongoing quality assurance programs. can assist your superintendent, principal, school board, athletic trainer or school nurse with all facets of a comprehensive PAD program.

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Are AEDs easy to use?

Extremely. Automated external defibrillators are designed for use by virtually anyone with minimal training.

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What additional training is required?

In many cases, a simple course including CPR and AED training is all that is required. For example, the American Heart Association offers the Heartsaver™ AED course, which can be completed in less than four hours. Training requirements vary, so contact for more information on your state's unique requirements.

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What liability do we incur by deploying AEDs in our facilities — or by not having AEDs on-site?

The laws surrounding AED usage vary from state to state. All states in the U.S. but one have passed Good Samaritan laws with language about AEDs. Additionally, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act [ pdf 92.0KB ], which was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 2000, provides AED users and acquirers with protection from liability. This and similar legislation underway is helping to make AEDs the standard of care for SCA, and as such, organizations are increasingly at greater liability for failing to have these life-saving devices on-site. In fact, the father of a 14-year-old student athlete in Olmsted Falls, Ohio is suing the school district for $2.5 million, claiming that school officials did not make provisions for notification of emergency personnel from the outdoor track where his daughter went into SCA and for failing to have defibrillators on school grounds. Read more about this from the National Center for Early Defibrillation.

Note: To view the above PDF document, you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Download the free Reader from Adobe's web site.

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What is the cost to purchase and maintain an AED?

An AED costs about the same as a well-equipped laptop computer.

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Where would we place our AEDs?

Some key areas to place AEDs in your facility would be:
In student health areas or with the school nurse
In cafeterias, auditoriums, and gymnasiums
Near a fire extinguisher
In a reception or common area
With athletic trainers
With a security officer
Wherever your AEDs are placed, they should be visible and easily accessible.

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