Home  Newsroom  Headlines

School District Foots Bill To Supply 100 Elementary Schools With Costly AED Device

School District foots bill to supply 100 elementary schools with costly AED device

Philadelphia School District shelled out over $150,000 to cover the cost of an AED in its elementary schools by the end of June. | Photo: Cardiac Science

By the end of June, the Philadelphia School District will have equipped each of its 214 schools with an automated emergency defibrillator.

Actually, 65 of those schools already had them, in addition to the district’s athletic complexes and super site facilities, but it was covering the 149 elementary schools that, as of the end of the school year, relied only on the emergency training from staff and personnel.

Now before jumping to conclusions, it’s not as dangerous as one might think to not have these supplied in every building. In fact, for a cash-strapped school district dealing with the demands of teachers working without a viable contract and selling off buildings just to stay afloat – it’s surprising that AEDs weren’t at the bottom of the list.

Not only were they not at the bottom, but the school district, through a mix of donations and dipping into its own fund, sprung for the Cardiac Science G5, which provides instructions via voice and text in both English and Spanish. The cost of the machine, in addition to a case, instructional signage and training for school administrators staff, was roughly $1,500 per school. Donations covered only about 40 of the city’s elementary schools with SDP footing the bill for the remainder.

Expensive math, but one the members of the school district feel was a prudent investment.

“For a lot of these schools, these AEDs are really the Holy Grail,” said Bettyann Creighton, executive director of health, safety and physical education for the District. “Survival decreases by 10 percent every minute for sudden cardiac arrest…[so]  I don’t perceive [the wait to have these in every school] as a delay, I just see it as a huge district; we have a lot to do, and we’re doing all that we can to advocate and promote health and safety in our schools. This is just a part of that culture.”

According to school spokesperson Megan Lello, over the past month, the District has ramped up its efforts to supply and train school principals and other personnel. Administrators actually went to the SDP headquarters to pick up a machine and were instructed on its purpose, how to use it and by the end of the session, fully knew the capacity they have to save the life of a student.

Why the delay in getting these into the elementary schools?

“Sudden cardiac arrest is really more prevalent in teens and athletes,” said Creighton. “So our first goal was to cover the high school and the athletic facilities [which we did] in 2002 [courtesy of] the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association.  They donated $100,000 for us to equip all of the high schools and athletic complexes that was all the stadiums and supersites and so on. It was a massive gift to the school district.”

Creighton said that in 2006, the Youth Heart Watch program of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia donated an AED to all middle schools in the district, which at the time ranged around 25 middle schools.  Since then, by virtue of the School District’s “Think AED” campaign, sporadic donations have continued, but it was the district “coming upon funding” that allowed it to make the leap to cover all of the remaining elementary schools in March-April of this year.

“We moved very quickly on identifying the [remaining] schools that needed them,” said Creighton.

Since this Herculean effort, the District has received additional endowments, and with that money, Creighton said the task now is to replace the old AEDs so that every single one across the entire district is uniform with the Cardiac Science G5 unit. No timeline is set for that effort, but it’s one that Creighton noted is another item high on the list.

“To be consistent with the same machine we are looking to swap out a lot of the ones in the middle schools and high schools to make them consistent across the district,” Creighton said. “So using the ‘Think AED campaign,’ we’ll continue to replace and maintain current AEDs that are already in the schools. Since we’ve purchased these [latest AEDs] we’ve already received additional donations. So the plan is to circle back to the high schools and that have outdated machines. Because of their size, many of our high schools have three to four machines; not all need to be replaced, just the ones from the [2002] Trial Lawyers go-around. That’s going to a big task.”

Story Credit: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news/school-district-foots-bill-to-supply-elementary-schools-with-costly/article_301fcf70-5c17-11e7-af0a-5bcfef624d19.html