AEDs in Schools
At the 2017 Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update (ECCU) conference presented by the Citizen CPR Foundation, we had the opportunity to attend many worthwhile courses, including a course about AEDs in schools. As it stands now, 37 states have some form of legislation that requires CPR in schools and only 17 states have an AED requirement. As an added barrier, the funding for the mandate is not always available. This means most schools across the nation are not equipped to respond if a student experiences Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
As many as 7,000 children are struck down by SCA each year in the United States alone. It is believed that 2 in 50 high schools will have a student suffer from SCA annually. With 20-25% of the population in school every day, it’s crucial our schools be equipped and trained to provide lifesaving skills.
What role do AEDs play in combating SCA? A victim’s chance of survival decreases 7-10% for every minute that passes without an AED shock. An AED is most effective when used within 3 minutes after cardiac arrest. Considering the average emergency response time is 8-12 minutes, bystanders, meaning teachers, coaches, and fellow students, are the key to saving more lives!
For the states that do have successful CPR/AED programs, the components of an effective program include:
- Establishing a Cardiac Emergency Response Team
- Activating the team in response to an SCA event
- Making AEDs readily available and following proper maintenance
- Disseminating the plan throughout the school campus
The best way to implement a successful program is to gain buy-in from the school administration. Next is to identify a champion within the school who will lead the crusade and push for action.
The goal is to not only get AEDs in schools and to train the teachers to make it safer for the students, but to also train the students in CPR/AED use. Imagine the force multipliers we could have if we made CPR/AED training a requirement for high school graduation. From a young age, the knowledge and confidence to respond to emergency situations would be ingrained, leading to more saved lives in the workplace, community and at home.
Some regions of the country are already working in this direction. In fact, some countries are making CPR training a requirement in order to get a driver’s license. The common theme for the advancement of CPR and AEDs in schools is for us to remain diligent, contact our representatives and celebrate our victories (saves).