Lincoln to place defibrillators in all schools

November 25, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Children aren't typically heart-attack victims, but if their heart should fail at school, the chances of survival will soon be given a healthy jolt.

Automated external defibrillators, which shock a failing heart into beating, are planned for placement in all Lincoln County schools after a federal emergency preparedness grant helped fund experts' school visits and identify them as a district safety need.

According to Superintendent Teresa Wallace, the death of a Pulaski County student due to heart failure helped spark the interest in Lincoln County among school board members.

"Mr. [David] Hacker picked up on it and wanted to start that program here," Wallace said.

The board has since formed a special committee to research and purchase the defibrillators. "I think it will benefit the high school and middle school, where they have more sports," she said.


School Health Coordinator Eva Stone said the number of student heart-related deaths nationwide has increasingly demonstrated the need for such emergency devices.

"I think it's coming to that point," where they are needed in schools. If not just for the students, then also for employees, visitors and athletes, said Stone.

Twenty-nine machines needed

The defibrillator committee has chosen a type of machine compatible with those used by local emergency medical services and the hospital. They have estimated the cost of the 29 machines needed at $50,000. This includes defibrillators and their housing cabinets, which sound an alarm when opened.

Though the cost might seem steep, "that one time when they may be needed, they would be worth $1 million," said high school assistant principal Wes Cornett.

Enough defibrillators will be housed in each school to ensure one can be used within the first three minutes of an emergency, the length of time in which they are most effective.

This means five to seven will be placed in the high school alone, said Stone.

At the price of $1,700 per device, the piggy bank of the defibrillator committee could use a little extra voltage itself.

Committee members are asking civic groups and community members to help defray the $50,000 price tag. One such donation has since been made by the Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, a "very worthwhile" contribution, said Stone, but more are needed.

Anyone interested in the defibrillator program may contact the Board of Education's Central Office at (606) 365-2124.

"It's just another step to keep the school safer, because it's not just kids who will benefit from these," Stone said.

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