Schools Receive Life-Saving Equipment
Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2008
Heart Shocker: Clinic manager Connie Barker and EMS trainer John Gilliam apply AED electrode pads to a training mannikin. An AED uses an electric shock to restart a stopped heart. All Love County schools have been given AEDs through a donation arranged by Mercy Health/Love County Hospital and Clinic.
Life-saving equipment to treat victims of sudden cardiac arrest is being placed in Love County schools this month.
The device, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), applies an electric shock that can restart a stopped heart.
Each school will have two or three devices, depending on school size. They are stored in wall-mounted, glass-front cases in public areas. The cases are equipped with an alarm to prevent theft of the unit but still allow easy access.
The unit itself is portable with a handle and shoulder strap and can be carried to ballfields, auditoriums, gymnasiums, or wherever crowds, particularly adults, gather.
Cardiac arrest is a sudden condition that is fatal if not treated within a few minutes.
To affect survival, an AED shock should be administered within 10 minutes, and optimally in less than four minutes, according to paramedic John Gilliam, the trainer for the Love County Emergency Medical Service.
The AEDs are being given to the schools by Mercy Health/Love County Hospital and Clinic, which secured $10,000 in funding for them from a donor who declined to take credit by name.
Connie Barker, longtime clinic manager and a member of the Marietta Board of Education, championed the idea and was instrumental in securing funding. She visited school superintendents to offer the units. “They were very receptive and gratified,” she said.
Gilliam, an EMS medic for 15 years, has been training teachers, administrators, and coaches selected by each school in use of the AED. He will visit the schools periodically to inspect the equipment and test and replace batteries.
An AED is applied outside the body. It automatically checks a patient’s heart rhythm and advises the rescuer whether or not a shock is needed to restore a normal heart beat.
The shock is delivered by adhesive electrode pads, through the victim’s chest wall, and into the heart. If the patient’s heart resumes beating normally, the heart has been “defibrillated.”
An AED uses voice prompts, lights, and text messages to tell the rescuer the steps to take.
The device will not allow a shock to be administered if there is a pulse.
An AED is used in conjunction with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
“The AED restores heart rhythm, and CPR prolongs the rhythm. The rescuer will use a cycle of CPR between shocks, if the system prompts them to administer more than one shock,” Gilliam said.
Although she was one of the educators participating in Gilliam’s training last week, Thackerville teacher Tonja Mayo is no stranger to defibrillators. She successfully resuscitated a patient while serving as a paramedic in the Navy in the 1990s.
“It was a memorable experience to know the patient recovered because of that,” she said.