November 28, 2007–AKRON–A program to place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in Ohio schools, administered by Akron General Medical Center and funded by the state of Ohio, is now complete. The five million dollars allocated to the program in two phases over the past several years paid for the placement of 4,544 of the life-saving electronic devices in schools throughout Ohio.
The program should be expanded across the country, said U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton. “This proven, lifesaving step should be taken in every single state,” Sutton, a Democrat who represents northeast Ohio's 13th District, said in a statement. “I'm proud that northeast Ohio is leading the way.”
“Defibrillation from an AED is the single most effective treatment for starting the heart after a sudden cardiac arrest, the leading killer in the United States," says Terry A. Gordon, DO, a cardiologist with Northeast Ohio Cardiovascular Specialists and a member of the medical staff at Akron General who spearheaded the project. “Already, 12 lives have been saved across Ohio through the use of these devices.”
Earlier this month, a 13-year-old boy from Vernon, Ohio, who collapsed at school was revived through the use of an AED that was obtained through the program and similar cases have been reported by schools across the state. Schools receiving an AED through the program were required to form a team of five people who were trained on the use of the device. Ohio Senate Bill 321 provided qualified immunity from civil and criminal liability of people who provide defibrillation from one of the AEDs. The AED program also included CPR training as well as alignment with local EMS.
Plans are now being made to secure funding and expand the program nationally. “The goal is to make sure an AED is available in every school in every state,” Dr. Gordon says. “Defibrillators placed in schools are available to save not only children’s lives but the lives of adults who use the facilities as well.” In 2005, a Hubbard, Ohio man portraying Santa Claus at a school function collapsed and was revived using an AED provided by the program.
Dr. Gordon and Rep. Sutton are working to enlist the aid of state and congressional leaders to help champion this urgent cause and put an AED device in every school in America. Every year in America, more than 250,000 people collapse from sudden cardiac arrest. SCA, often caused by a heart rhythm disorder called ventricular fibrillation, can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Without immediate treatment, SCA results in death.