By Nick Nunn staff writer
Four new automated external defibrillators were unpacked at the Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) office last Thursday, March 6. The AED were purchased with a portion of a $10,000 grant that the school received from the Conrads Family Foundation Fund, a part of the Morgan Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
After receiving the four new AEDs, the Morgan County School System now has four defibrillators at the high school, three at the middle school, and one at each the elementary and primary schools. According to the grant application, the BOE requested funds for additional AEDs in order to accommodate the expanding facilities at Morgan County schools.
The application states that there are children in the school system, who are known to be at risk for a sudden cardiac arrest because of a genetic condition known as Long QT syndrome, and that having a defibrillator within three minutes’ reach is a key to survival. “AEDs are one of the most underestimated pieces of accessible equipment available to the general public,” said Carolyn Hubbard, RN, and mother of two children in the Morgan County School System.
Three members of Hubbard’s family have Long QT syndrome. “As a mother and a RN, I find great comfort in the fact that my children are at a school where AEDs are strategically placed on all of our school campuses,” continued Hubbard. She stated that approximately 2,000 to 3,000 children and young adults in the United States die yearly due to Long QT sydrome. Jill Cooper, school nurse at Morgan County Elementary School (MCES), said that there are many who have Long QT syndrome and that are “unidentified.” She stated that Long QT syndrome is “basically an electrical problem” that can cause the heart to stop suddenly. “Often, families who lose somebody young suddenly with no warning signs are tested for this,” said Cooper.
“We hope… [to] increase community awareness with regard to heart disease and how important AEDs are in the event of a person who becomes unconscious,” continued Cooper. “The AEDs are very smart machines, and they assess the person’s rhythm and determine if a shock or CPR is needed. They also talk the user through their use.” Cooper said that the schools are looking to become “Heart Smart” by locating AEDs in strategic locations around the schools, as well as training staff members to use the device. The four new AEDs are part of a “wish list” that was created for the purpose of receiving the grant funds. Additional items on the list, which have not yet been purchased, include: an AED at the BOE, an AED for Morgan County’s Crossroads school, an AED for the middle school that travels with athletic teams at events, additional pads for the currently-owned units, and training pads for the some of the units. “Our community should be very grateful for such a thoughtful gift to our school system,” said Hubbard.
“As a healthcare provider and RN, I am proud to say that our school system is doing a great job to be prepared for something we hope will never happen to a person.”