All school district 78 (SD78) schools and buildings will soon be equipped with automatic external defibrillators (AED) after a motion by trustee Tom Hendrickson was passed at a board meeting Dec. 12.
Hendrickson introduced the motion at a Nov. 14 board meeting, citing the tragic loss of eight-year-old Griffin Martin, who died earlier this year after going into cardiac arrest during recess at an Ottawa elementary school.
AEDs deliver electric shocks to patients in cardiac arrest, helping to return the heart to its normal rhythm. According to a presentation by assistant superintendent Kevin Bird, the machines will be installed in alarmed cases in all SD78 sites.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website says the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest more than double when early CPR is administered along with an AED in the first few minutes.
“Waiting for an ambulance to arrive would take too long,” Bird said.”We would have them installed at school so they can be immediately grabbed and brought to the places where they would most likely be needed.”
Bird said factors like age, activity, sports and unknown heart conditions, especially in youth, are just a few of the reasons the AEDs are necessary.
“We do have an aging teaching population so there may be other needs in the school as well,” he added.
In November, Surrey high school basketball player Raphael Alcoreza went into cardiac arrest during a game at Holy Cross Regional High School.
The Grade 12 student had told coaches he felt dizzy and lightheaded before he collapsed and was rushed to hospital. He died in hospital in early December.
“We don’t know if one of these machines would have saved him,” Hendrickson said to the board Tuesday night. “But it is our responsibility as trustees to give every opportunity and every chance [to kids.]”
The province of Manitoba has had a Defibrillator Public Access Act since 2013, requiring all high-traffic public places to be equipped with AEDs, and a number of school districts across B.C. have already equipped their facilities.
Cost and funding for SD78’s AEDs have not yet been determined.