Cardiovascular diseases are the most frequent cause of death globally, taking 17.9 million lives yearly. Heart attack and cardiac arrest are the usual outcomes of a CVD, and as such, prevention measures should be established by the public, not just by medical establishments.
One way to ensure preparedness in the event of a cardiac arrest is to have an AED at hand, whether it be in a shopping mall or school. Since we mentioned schools, it’s important to know that authorities have taken a more serious approach toward ensuring our kids’ safety in more aspects, particularly when their health is concerned.
In the States, state and local authorities, as well as health organizations like the AHA, have recommended or obligated schools and other public establishments, like hotels and airports, to have a minimum of one automated external defibrillator (AED) on the premises at all times.
So, what are some of the safety benefits of AEDs in schools? Let’s see how an AED can benefit any school and help boost survival rates.
The Essence of AEDs
AEDs, more commonly known as defibrillators, are designed to deliver electrical shocks to the heart when it has stopped beating. AEDs restart the heart in a safe way, both for the operator of the AED and the victim that’s suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.
AEDs are designed to be easy to use, simple to navigate, and mobile. Anyone can use automated external defibrillators without significant training. Usually, these defibrillators come in a wall-mountable box that’s easy to install and comes with instructions, visual aids, and voice guides.
Many studies have explored the effects of AEDs and their efficacy in preventing fatal outcomes in cardiac arrests. This PubMed study shows that the use of AED is associated with a nearly doubled survival rate in the event of an OHCA.
Why Should All Schools Provide AEDs?
Given some of the statistics we discussed above, we can’t help but highlight the importance of the presence of AEDs in schools. Here are some additional reasons AEDs should always be on the premises in educational facilities:
- Schools Are Where Kids Spend Most of Their Day
On average, kids spend around 175 and 186 days in school, which translates to roughly 900+ hours of learning a year. Since kids spend so much time in these educational facilities, we can only hope they are safe and well while at school.
But, what if a health scare happens? SCA (sudden cardiac arrest) can happen to anyone, including children, unfortunately. Close to 7,000 children in the U.S. lose their lives to sudden cardiac arrest each year, and those are 7,000 lives too many.
Research from AHA noted that nearly 2 in 50 high schools in the U.S. deal with at least one SCA yearly, which is a terribly unsettling statistic. With all of these statistics in mind, we can’t overlook the importance of automated external defibrillators in schools.
If a school has fire alarms and fire extinguishers, it should definitely have an AED, too. A school safety system simply isn’t complete without an AED.
- It’s a School’s Responsibility
In essence, every school has its own responsibility to keep children away from harm’s way. In that context, schools should prepare emergency plans in the event of tornadoes, fires, and health issues like sudden cardiac arrest or a heart attack.
Luckily, more and more state officials and health organizations are recommending and sometimes mandating schools and other public places to have an AED on site.
With the help of automated external defibrillators, schools are taking a huge step towards ensuring a child’s life is sustained until professional help arrives. Since AEDs are exceptionally easy to operate and transport from one place to another, schoolchildren should have no issues handling the machine.
- Young Athletes Are Predisposed to SCA
Even though some might discard the fact that SCA can occur in children, it remains that SCA is a highly-occurring condition in young athletes, contributing to 75% of sports and exercise-related fatalities.
School athletes are generally more prone to suffering a sudden cardiac arrest than other categories of school children or non-athletes. Luckily, an AED can significantly boost survival chances in such a scenario.
- SCA Is More Common Than You Think
Since SCAs are more and more common among youth, schools are considering installing several automated external defibrillators on the school ground. Thankfully, school authorities attend conferences and symposiums elaborating on the safety parameters of AEDs in schools.
However, kids don’t have to be super active in sports to suffer from an SCA; it can happen during a PE class, a regular workout, exercise, and so on. In such cases, the heart stops beating, so it needs to be defibrillated. If there’s no AED close by, chances are, the victim won’t survive until help arrives.
- AEDs in Schools Improve the Hospital Survival Rate
Young children and students who suffer from an SCA have a greater hospital survival rate when an AED has been used on them before the hospital transfer. According to the American College of Cardiology, 70% of students who have an SCA at school with an AED survive.
- Defibrillation Can Change Someone’s Fate
The time between the moment of collapse and defibrillation is crucial. When a child suffers a sudden cardiac arrest, every split second counts. If a school is without an AED when a child falls under cardiac arrest, the chances of survival are significantly lower, even if EMS arrive on the scene faster than usual.
Shocking the heart with an AED in the case of SCA is the only way to restore a heartbeat, and every second without a shock means a 7% to 10% decrease of survival odds.
- Anyone Can Use Automated External Defibrillators
The fact that AEDs are simple to use and understand makes them the perfect life-saving tool for schools. Everyone in the school can learn how to use the machine, whether they’ve performed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) before or have never seen an AED in their lives.
AEDs are simple in design and lightweight, which makes them easy for children, teachers, and other school staff to carry when the occasion arises.
- Schools Have the Best Open-View Locations to Install AEDs
AEDs are easy to install and lightweight, making them perfect to be installed on walls, in school hallways, in the kitchen area, and anywhere else authorities see most fit.
In general, AEDs should be installed on a clearly visible spot and at a certain height, considering school children might have a hard time reaching for them in the case of an emergency.
- Good Samaritan Laws Protect Lifesavers
If liability is what school authorities are concerned with, then rest easy — the Good Samaritan laws protect the lifesaver from being held liable. Every state in the U.S. has enforced Good Samaritan laws as means to encourage bystanders to lend a helping hand in the case of a medical emergency.
Which States Require AEDs in Public Schools?
Sadly, not all schools in the U.S. have made the presence of AEDs mandatory in schools. Some of the states that have grasped the utter importance of AEDs in school include Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Texas, and Florida, among others.
However, 27 states still allow schools to be without an AED, and some of them include Arizona, Virginia, Washington, and Mississippi.
Key Takeaway: The Safety Benefits of AEDs in Schools
Now that we’ve gone over the safety benefits of AEDs in schools, let’s do a quick recap.
We can all contribute to making sure our kids stay and feel safe in school. Whether it’s educating them on the occurrence of SCA or what an AED is, every bit of information counts.
The school system is responsible for the safety of the children spending hours in the educational facilities, so it’s only logical that all the right measures and precautions are taken.
AEDs are the best medical tools for schools to have — these machines save lives, are easy to use, and increase the hospital survival chances of SCA victims.