SD78 trustee advocates for defibrillators in schools

Says machines could save lives of students, staff

Fraser-Cascade school district 78 trustee Tom Hendrickson is hoping to have all schools in the district equipped with automatic external defibrillators (AED) in the near future.

AEDs deliver electric shocks to patients in cardiac arrest, helping to return the heart to its normal rhythm. The machines are safe and simple, with voice prompts directing the administrator.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website, the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest more than double when early CPR is administered along with an AED in the first few minutes.

Hendrickson made a recommendation for the school board to look into the lifesaving machines at the SD78 meeting in Agassiz Nov. 14.

“Over the years, whether it’s on gym floors or hockey rinks or in playgrounds, youth have dropped with heart failure,” he said. “The one that got me was young Griffin Martin.”

Martin was only eight years old when his heart stopped beating during recess at Orleans Wood Elementary School in Ottawa, Ont., in February.

While mystery still surrounds the cause of the boy’s sudden cardiac arrest, it is possible an AED could have saved his life. Martin’s parents have been crusading to have AEDs installed in schools in their late son’s district since his death.

Even before Hendrickson heard of the Ontario boy’s death, he had advocated for increased focus on heart health in schools.

“This isn’t something that just came out of the blue,” he said. “I’ve been watching our kids when they play extreme sports like basketball and football or whatever…and they are really straining.

“What we have to understand is, we are responsible for the safety of students when they come into our schools. And that’s safety from everything – from bullying, from everything.

“The parents and guardians have to feel that the school district is doing everything within their power to make sure their children are safe.”

Hendrickon adds that the AEDs could save the lives of school staff and administration as well.

The trustee has made a motion to the school board, and a decision will be made at the Dec. 12 meeting.

“If it passes, then I can assure you that the units will be in all of our facilities,” Hendrickson said.

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