Outfitting all of the schools in the district with a defibrillator is coming to fruition with a final top up from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
School District 20 (SD20) is receiving five Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) donated from the foundation, which means between community donations and $10,000 of unallocated funds from the board of trustees, Kootenay-Columbia can complete its campaign of equipping 12 school sites and three additional office and shop sites with the life-saving devices.
The Board of Education sought out help from the community in December 2014, a year after trustees explored the possibility of acquiring the equipment for its schools and training staff to operate.
J. L. Crowe Secondary School was the only location that already had a device, which resulted in the board’s push for 14 AEDs that run for approximately $1,350 each. Some of the bill was picked up by community groups and organizations after 25 requests were sent out and donations were received.
“We actually lost a staff member at Twin Rivers Elementary a few years back,” explains board chair Teri Ferworn. “I believe that if there had been an AED on site, it perhaps could have saved his life, but they weren’t able to get him going on CPR alone. Statistics show that they do save lives and anybody can use one.”
An AED is a portable electronic device that first assesses the heart of a person in cardiac arrest and if an irregular rhythm is detected, the machine instructs the handler to press a button and deliver a shock(s) to the victim’s heart until it reestablishes an effective rhythm. If an irregularity is not detected, then defibrillation is not recommended by the device and CPR is continued until medical help arrives. With simple audio and visual commands, AEDs are designed to be easy to use but should still be handled by a person who is trained to use the device after administrating CPR.
The board is committed to covering the ongoing maintenance and training costs related to the deployment of AEDs, which should be installed in SD20 facilities come June.