County schools add defib devices

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2017

In an effort to be more prepared in the event of an emergency, Covington County Schools is purchasing additional AEDs at its campuses.

An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electronic shock to the heart to try to restore normal rhythm.

They can be used to treat sudden cardiac arrest.

Nikki Guilford of the system’s central office is leading the project.

“We have the required amount of AEDs at each of our schools already,” she said. “But we feel like we should add more where there are large gatherings or events such as athletic and community events.”

Guilford said administrators feel it is important to have AEDs close at hand.

“Our campuses are so spread out since they are large,” she said. “The minimum requirement we have, but we know if we are on the other side of campus those minutes could be the difference in saving lives.”

Statistics how that as many as 450,000 people suffer and die from sudden cardiac arrest each year, and of those 7,000 to 10,000 are children.

Guilford said that their closest campus is 15-20 minutes from the hospital.

In fact, according to Google Maps, Pleasant Home School and Straughn Schools are 16 minutes from Andalusia Health. Red Level is 18 minutes, WS Harlan is 27 minutes and Florala was 30 minutes. Fleeta is six minutes from Mizell and 26 minutes from Andalusia.

“It’s important for us to be prepared,” Guilford said. “We want to make sure we can help to the best of our ability.”

Guilford said they already train coaches and administrators in the use of the devices.

“We have an emergency team at each school,” she said. “And we will continue to have training in place and expand the training to include more teachers.”

She said that AEDS are relatively easy to use, especially the ones they are looking to purchase.

“We are a third of the way to adding what we want to add,” she said. “A lot of our schools, we used some local funding for that. Some already have above the minimum. Some of the school organizations have purchased some.”

The towns of River Falls and Sanford have also helped purchase devices.