Should all schools have defibrillators?

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Day Care & Education

Schools are charged with planning emergency procedures for all kinds of situations - fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. But what about medical emergencies? Should every school in the country have a portable defibrillator in case a student suffers cardiac arrest? Despite a push to equip all schools with these machines, which are used to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm, a study published in an American Heart Association publication, says it is probably not necessary.

A 16-year study in the Seattle area found only 12 incidents of cardiac arrest in a student while at school and one third of those children had known heart problems. They also found that most of the cardiac arrests that happened at school involved adults, not students, and that they occurred most often in high schools and middle schools.

So, why wouldn't a school want a defibrillator handy just in case? Mostly because of the cost. A portable defibrillator costs anywhere from $1000 to $3000 plus the associated staff training costs.

The upshot is the American Heart Association recommends putting defibrillators only in public places where it would take longer than five minutes for emergency medical personnel to arrive - such as rural schools or large campuses.

Schools are already required to identify students with health problems, and it would make sense those campuses would have on hand the means to treat a student should the need arise. But should all schools be so prepared?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.