When it comes to surviving a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest brought on by some form of trauma, speed is of the essence. In short, time matters.
Last Feb. 19, the basketball homecoming game went from a fun and pleasant evening to something out of a movie of the week type setting. In a matter of a few short minutes, four people needed quick medical attention, each with a different medical problem. One was a possible heart attack. It was an eye opening experience for the Powell County School System.
“We would not want something like to happen again, but now we will be better prepared,” athletic director and school safety coordinator Monroe Jones said last Thursday. The Powell County schools will now have an (AED), which is known as an AED in each of the district’s six schools. There will be a seventh one that will be made available for outdoor sporting events held by the schools.
The idea for the life-saving devices came from Powell Superintendent Evelyn Neely. “When I was at Breckinridge County we worked on getting a grant to purchase one for each school there,” she said. “We were able to get the grant and I went through the training to become a trainer myself, to save the schools some money and be ale to make sure we could have a trained staff to use these.” She went on to say that when she came back to Powell County it was “her dream” to provide the devices here too. But there was just no grant money available for it.
That is where the school board stepped in. The board voted to purchase the AED’s. Local emergency worker and trainer Eddie Barnes will assist in training the school staff how to use the devices. But for the most part the manufactures say they can be used by just about anyone. The training to use the devices has also been incorporated into a lot of CPR Training Courses.
“We have about 80 staff members in the district who received training on them last year during the CPR and First-Aid training we took,” schools health director Laura Young advised. According to industry standards and emergency workers, a ration of at least one trained staff member for every eight is a minimum number.
“The KHSAA has increased guidelines for coaches,” Neely said. “It is only suggested, not mandated.” Jones continued that thought, “The coaches, head coaches at least, receive the training for CPR and First-Aid,” he added. Many of the assistant coaches have received some form of training with CPR and some have even been trained on the AED.
The devices will be stored in metal boxes, much like those that hold fire extinguishers and will be easily accessible. The boxes have a warning sound that lets people in the area know if the box has been opened.
The AED comes with pads for children and adults that are placed on the victim. There are pictures on the pads that show where to place them on the body. The pads are hooked to a small machine that will monitor for a heart beat. If no heart beat is found, a voice from the machine will tell the person using the device to clear way or not touch the patient and then to press a button to deliver a shock to help get the heart started on a more normal rhythm. If a heart beat is found, the AED will not suggest a shock and none will be given.
In conjunction with CPR, a potential victim could get help quicker and may possibly have an actual heart beat again before EMS personnel arrive.
“I believe it will make the parents feel better and fell safer for their kids knowing we have this device,” Jones said. “I believe the staff will also feel safer and better knowing that it is there,” Young added.
The devices will be tested each month by the company the school system purchased them from Cintas. “They will make sure the AED’s are in working order and test the battery each month on each device,” Neely said. “That insures that they are operational and if something were to go wrong, it would not be because we forgot to check them. The company is checking them.” Young added, “We’ve had some of them since July and they have come by like clockwork each month to check them.”
Coaches and school staff are not the only ones that can and will be trained. The training will be available system-wide. “The bus drivers did not like it at first, but after getting some training, they were more appreciative of it,” Jones said. “Many of them said they never know when they may have to use CPR and it was nice to know it now.”
If you are thinking about getting one for your home, it is not as easy as walking into a store and buying one. “You have to have a prescription for them,” Young said. “We want to thank Sarah Howell, an ARN at Ertel Medicine, for writing the prescription for us,” Neely said. “And we want to thank the school board for helping us by voting to purchase them.”
“Like the night last year at the gym,” Jones said. “You hope you never have a night like that and you hope you never have to use these. But it’s good to know they are there if you need them.”