Our mission is to prevent sudden cardiac death in Georgia schools, through awareness and education about sudden cardiac arrest, the critical need for a timely response, CPR and AED program implementation.
So far, we’ve had some great successes. Since the program’s start, nearly 700 Georgia schools have been recognized as Project S.A.V.E. HeartSafe schools after implementing a comprehensive program of ongoing CPR training, AED deployment and maintenance, staff awareness and practice drills. Many others are in process.
Since December 2007, 18 lives have been saved in Georgia schools. Eight students and 10 adults are alive today because their schools were prepared and practiced for responding to this medical emergency.
If we can just create awareness of SCA, especially in children and adolescents, in the school community, the barriers of funding and the lack of will to implement this program can be overcome pretty easily. Often, once the awareness has been created, more than enough money comes in and others learn about SCA as well.
The first step to implementing a CPR training and AED program in your school is to start with creating awareness, and then work toward implementing a quality, comprehensive AED program. This includes a first responder team at each school, thoughtful deployment of AEDs, all-staff awareness about SCA (because any staff member could be the witness), and doing regular AED practice drills, using a CPR manikin and AED trainer. These last two pieces have been critical to our overall success.
Lives will be saved, and by going through this process, the school will also have a template to follow for other medical emergency responses. And don't forget to seek publicity for your efforts.
Anytime you teach someone about sudden cardiac arrest, CPR and AEDs you make your whole community more heartsafe and create interest in CPR education and deployment of AEDs in other public places.
Alison Ellison, BSN, NCSN, is the project coordinator for Project S.A.V.E. at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Started by Children’s in August 2004, Project S.A.V.E is an affiliate of Project ADAM in Wisconsin.