|Director Cris Brown, Barbara Mostella
and Dr. Yung Lau of UAB
Nationwide, thousands of school age children die from sudden cardiac arrest each year and only five to 10 percent survive without immediate treatment. An automated external defibrillator (AED) can increase the survival rate to 50 percent.
A 2007 survey conducted with the Alabama State Department of Education identified 71 public high schools and 107 public middle schools that did not have any AEDs on campus. Cris Brown, working with Dr. Yung Lau and Barbara Mostella of UAB, created Alabama LifeStart to address this need. A grant from Children's of Alabama funded the pilot program that was conducted in the Black Belt where there was a high concentration of schools lacking the devices. Dr. Lau has served as its Medical Director and Brown has managed the project since its inception.
Every public middle, junior and senior high school in the state is now equipped with at least one AED, thanks in large part to Alabama LifeStart and Children's of Alabama, with the financial support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and others.
To date, approximately 400 schools have been provided with AEDs, AED trainer units and resource materials from Alabama LifeStart. At least four students’ lives have been saved as a result of the quick response of school staff and faculty using those devices.
In an effort to ensure that Alabama schools are equipped and trained to use AEDs, the program has awarded more than 160 schools the title of "Heart-Safe School.” The recipient schools have been honored for having successfully incorporated AED training into their student health or physical education curriculum.
Unfortunately, not all faculty, staff and students know how to use the devices quickly in an emergency. This year, Alabama LifeStart will continue to provide schools with free AEDs, trainer devices and other classroom resources to help them learn how to respond quickly and effectively to a sudden cardiac emergency. For AED training materials or more information on equipping your school with an AED, contact Alabama LifeStart.