Monday, October 7, 2013

AEDs in Schools: A True Life Saver

Automatic External Defibrillators, or AEDs, save lives by aiding people who are suffering from a Sudden Cardiac Arrest or SCA. Schools can increase the survival rates for students, teachers and volunteers who have a SCA by taking the simple precaution of making sure an AED is in the building. School officials should also consider implementing the American Heart Association’s Chain of Survival plan into every learning facility’s curriculum to save even more lives. 

Treating someone suffering from Sudden Cardiac Arrest 

The very first thing is to make sure you have students and staff members trained to  recognize the signs of SCA. Should someone have an SCA immediately contact emergency services. 

The next step is to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, by completing chest compressions. If an AED device is available, then the responder should use it. If a successful AED program is in place at a school where someone is experiencing Sudden Cardiac Arrest, they should receive defibrillation within 3 to 5 minutes, increasing their chance of survival. According to the American Heart Association, defibrillation within 3 minutes of SCA raises the chance of survival to 70 percent.  The arrival of EMTs will increase the victim’s chances as well, but it will take precious time for them to arrive, and every minute that passes decreases the likelihood of survival.  

Most states require students to learn CPR. Furthermore, research shows that people who learn the lifesaving skill are able to recognize the occurrence of SCA accurately. Also, with CPR training, people are more likely to perform the most effective treatment method on someone who has a SCA. 

Circulation Today published a recent study highlighting the survival rates of individuals who suffered a SCA in a school. The study analyzed schools with at least one AED system in the facility. Out of 1,710 schools, 36 reported the occurrence of a SCA. In 34 of the cases, a bystander administered CPR, and in 30 of the incidents, an AED was used. The results showed that 23 of the people who experienced a SCA survived the episode, which proves that immediate treatment is vital. In fact, it can extend survival rates to as high as 74 percent.

The Best Location for an AED 

School officials should place AEDs in highly visible areas. Wall mount supports or glass cabinets are ideal storage units. They should also be close to a trained response team and near large groups of students. During the AED installation, school administrators must make sure that the device is protected from interference. For instance, the school can hire a contractor to build a recessed unit, or buy a cabinet with an alarm. 

Available AEDs

Today’s technology offers state-of-the-art AEDs.  There are plenty to choose from, and many trusted brands such as Zoll AEDs, Philips Heartstart AEDs and Defibtech AEDs.  When looking for an AED for a school, make sure it can be used on children. The Philips Heartstart FRX features a pediatric key that users can insert to change the unit into a pediatric defibrillator instead of requiring specialized pads. The advanced unit is portable or stationary and is a great choice for public areas and schools. 

For more information about implementing and automatic external defibrillator visit the American Heart Association and our AEDs for Schools page for information about discount for your school. 

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