The Safety Benefits of AEDs in Schools

TL;DR: Sudden cardiac arrest can affect anyone, even children, often without warning. Schools should be equipped with AEDs and trained staff to handle such emergencies. An incident in Miami, where a teacher used CPR and an AED to save a nine-year-old, highlights this need. Schools see many medical emergencies, and having AEDs can significantly improve survival rates. AEDs, combined with CPR training, ensure immediate and effective response, boosting safety for students and staff. Investing in AEDs and CPR training is crucial for schools to protect their communities.

Sudden cardiac arrest can strike anyone, even the youngest members of our society, and in 50% of cases, there is no apparent reason or explanation for why it happened. Given that children spend a significant portion of their day at school, it makes sense to equip these institutions with the tools needed to handle these and any other medical emergencies.

Such an emergency happened in a Miami school when a nine-year-old boy collapsed due to cardiac arrest. Thankfully, a quick-thinking teacher began CPR immediately. However, the real lifesaver was an AED that the school had on campus. With just one shock from the AED, the boy regained consciousness and remained stable until the ambulance arrived.

This incident shows only some of the safety benefits of AEDs in schools. The swift and coordinated response of the school staff, combined with the presence of an AED, saved the boy’s life. In this article, we’ll show why every school in the United States must have an AED on its premises and how these devices can significantly improve the safety of every student and school employee.

How Often Do Medical Emergencies Happen in Schools

Schools, bustling with children and activities, often see accidents and injuries. It’s not uncommon for incidents to occur when large groups of kids are in one place for most of the day. Statistics show that up to 25% of childhood injuries happen in school settings. Also, approximately 18% of kids will have an allergic reaction to food while at school at some point.

But students are not the only ones at risk. Adult staff and visitors can also face medical emergencies while on school premises. The presence of so many people in one location naturally increases the chances of medical episodes, so schools must be well-equipped to handle such situations.

Frequency of Cardiac Arrests in Schools

Unfortunately, cardiac arrests are not limited to the adult population. Children can also be affected by it, and nearly 20,000 U.S. children experience sudden cardiac arrest annually. While the causes can vary, common triggers in school settings include:

    • Congenital heart defects

    • Undiagnosed heart conditions

    • Severe asthma attacks

    • Stress

    • Blows to the chest during sports activities

Students participating in sports are particularly at risk due to the physical exertion they experience. That’s why schools must have AEDs readily available and train staff to use them.

Other Medical Emergencies

Aside from SCA, schools must also prepare for various other medical emergencies. Here are some common ones:

    • Asthma Attacks: They can occur due to allergens, exercise, or other triggers. Staff must be able to recognize symptoms and know how to use inhalers or nebulizers.

    • Allergic Reactions: Food, insect stings, or other allergens can lead to severe reactions. Immediate administration of epinephrine through an EpiPen can be lifesaving.

    • Cuts and Bruises: Such injuries are common from playground mishaps or sports and need basic first aid, including cleaning wounds and applying bandages.

    • Vomiting: This can result from infections or food poisoning. Isolate the child and keep them hydrated while monitoring for more severe symptoms.

    • Head Injuries: Falls or collisions can lead to concussions. Keep the child still, monitor for symptoms like dizziness or confusion, and seek medical evaluation.

    • Broken Bones: Accidents can cause fractures. Immobilize the injured limb and call a medical professional.

    • Choking: This can happen while eating or playing. The Heimlich maneuver can remove the object and free the airway.

    • Fainting: This can occur due to dehydration, overheating, or medical conditions. Lay the person flat and elevate their legs to improve blood flow to the brain.

Why Every School Needs an AED

While staff must take care of any injury a student sustains on school grounds as soon as possible, very few are as time-sensitive as cardiac arrests. Cardiac arrests can result in death if help is not administered right away. A readily available AED is indispensable in such situations, as it can significantly improve survival chances.

Studies have shown that the combination of CPR and AED use can increase a victim’s chance of survival by 50% to 74%. These devices not only provide immediate aid in life-threatening situations but also play a crucial role in maintaining the well-being of students and staff, even in the most severe scenarios.

Immediate Response Can Save Lives

The one thing that’s the most valuable in cases of cardiac arrest is time. Every minute that passes without administering resuscitation or a shock from an AED reduces the victim’s chances of survival by 10%.

That is why AEDs must be strategically placed throughout the school, for example, in gyms, cafeterias, and hallways. Easy accessibility is key – the faster school staff can reach the AED, the better the chances of a positive outcome.

Who Should Know How to Use an AED in Schools

Using an AED is straightforward, and anyone can learn how to do it. Modern AEDs come with voice prompts that guide you through each step, from correct placement to when to give a shock. These devices are user-friendly, so anyone can use them with no issue during an emergency.

In a school setting, it’s vital that everyone, from teachers to older students, knows how to use the AED properly. The more people who are knowledgeable and confident about using these devices, the safer the school environment becomes. People who can benefit from CPR and AED training include:

    • School Staff: Teachers, administrators, and support staff should know how to use an AED. Multiple trained individuals increase the chances of a quick and effective response during a cardiac emergency on school grounds.

    • Older Students: Even students can learn how to use an AED. Training older students also increases the likelihood that someone can respond quickly if an emergency occurs during extracurricular activities or in areas where adults might not be immediately present.

    • Parents: Parents should also learn how to use an AED. This knowledge extends the safety net beyond the school environment, ensuring parents can act effectively in emergencies at home or during school events.

Legal Requirements for AEDs in Schools

In Florida, the law mandates that only public schools participating in sports activities under the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) must have an AED on the premises. Additionally, at least one staff member trained in CPR and AED usage must be present at all sports events.

However, it’s beneficial for all schools to have an AED on-site, not just those involved in sports. Cardiac emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere, and having an AED readily available can significantly improve survival rates. Training all staff members in CPR and AED use will also improve overall preparedness.

Learning to Use an AED

The easiest way to learn to operate an AED is to attend CPR classes at a local CPR training provider. These classes cover AED use and teach you other life-saving skills, including:

    • Doing chest compressions¬†

    • Rescue breathing

    • Basic first aid

CPR training will also help build your confidence and knowledge to handle any medical emergency involving students or school staff. At the end of the course, you’ll receive a certificate that confirms your proficiency in using an AED and performing CPR. This certification reassures you and those around you that you can help during critical moments.

Think of The Students First

Having AEDs in schools provides a quick and effective tool to help in sudden cardiac arrest cases. These devices are simple, so even individuals without medical training can operate them effectively. Investing in AEDs and CPR training is a wise decision for any school that takes the well-being of its students seriously.

If you want to learn all of the safety benefits of AEDs in schools, you should start CPR classes in Miami, Florida. Learn how to do CPR, assess a medical emergency in seconds, and act without hesitation. Turn yourself into a lifesaver and role model for students, and call us today to set up a class.