Alabama LifeStart Names 15 New "HeartSafe" Schools
BIRMINGHAM – In an ongoing effort to ensure that students and staff in Alabama schools are well-equipped with and trained to use automated external defibrillators, Alabama LifeStart has named 15 new schools as “HeartSafe Schools.” These schools and more than 65 others are being honored for agreeing to incorporate training on the devices into their health or physical education curricula.
The following schools will be receiving a free AED from Alabama LifeStart:
• Butler County Innovation School, Greenville
• East Limestone High School, Athens
• Athens Bible School, Athens
• Prattville Christian Academy, Prattville
• Midfield High School, Midfield
• Montevallo High School, Montevallo
• Fairfield High Preparatory, Fairfield
• Gadsden City High School, Gadsden
• Greenville High School, Greenville
• Williamson High School, Mobile
• Good Hope High School, Good Hope
• Brewer High School, Somerville
• Decatur Christian Heritage Academy, Decatur
• Buckhorn High School, Buckhorn
• Georgiana School, Georgiana
As of 2011, every public middle, junior and senior high school in the state was equipped with at least one AED thanks in large part to a partnership of Alabama LifeStart, Children’s of Alabama and Lord Wedgwood Charity. Unfortunately, few staff and even fewer students know how to use them and some have only limited access to the equipment. In some schools, the equipment is housed in areas that are distant from the place where an emergency is most likely to occur such as the athletic field or gymnasium. The training and the installation of a second AED will improve the school’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to sudden cardiac arrest. School nurses will conduct the training.
“We want the AEDs to be as numerous as fire extinguishers,” Brown said. “You don’t want to have to go searching in an emergency.”
Nationwide, thousands of high 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 in Alabama that did not have any AEDs on campus. Brown, working with Dr. Yung Lau and Barbara Mostella of UAB, created Alabama LifeStart to address this need. Dr. Lau has served as its Medical Director and Brown has managed the project since its inception.
In 2008, a grant from Children's of Alabama funded the pilot program in the state’s Black Belt region, where there was a high concentration of schools lacking the devices. The program was soon rolled out statewide, and thanks to additional support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Alabama Power Company, every public high school, junior high and middle school in the state had at least one AED on campus by the end of the 2010-2011 school year. To date, more than 200 schools in Alabama have received free AEDs and AED training support from Alabama LifeStart.
In an effort to ensure that schools are not only well-equipped but also well-trained to use AEDs, Alabama LifeStart has publically recognized leading schools in the state for including AED training in their curriculum and in their regular classroom instruction for students. More than 80 schools have been named a "Heart-Safe School" since 2012. Thanks to the commitment of the nurses and teachers that conduct the training, students at these 80 Heart-Safe Schools have the opportunity to learn how to respond quickly and use an AED effectively as part of their regular classroom instruction.
For more information, contact Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.