Augusta Health Foundation supports AEDs in Schools
Because life-threatening heart problems can occur anywhere, anytime and to anyone of any age, the Augusta Health Foundation has provided financial support to local school systems for Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). AEDs are used to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating—usually because an electrical disturbance in the heart interrupts pumping action, cutting off blood flow and resulting in loss of breathing and consciousness. Cardiac arrest isn’t the same as a heart attack, but sometimes heart attacks can trigger electrical problems that cause cardiac arrest. This condition is usually fatal if treatment isn’t administered immediately.
From Augusta Health Foundation’s perspective, the grants were a natural response to the fact that cardiovascular disease and related problems continue to be the No. 1 killer of Augusta County residents, says Linda Gail Johnson, RN, BSN, MPH, executive director of the Foundation and Director of Community Wellness at Augusta Health. “Use of AEDs with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the most effective intervention,” she says.
Unfortunately, most schools don’t have the funds for the devices, which can cost up to $2,000 each. Johnson says this makes the grants all the more important. The money will be used by the schools to place AEDs in public areas such as gymnasiums and athletic fields.
Despite their technical names, AEDs are simple to use. “You turn them on and they tell you, step by step, what to do,” says JoAnne Hammer, RN, health educator at Augusta Health. “They check for abnormal heart rhythms, and they won’t shock someone unless they need to be shocked.” If the heart isn’t suffering from an abnormal rhythm, the device will instruct the user to continue with CPR, she says.
From a community wellness perspective, the devices just make sense. “AEDs save lives,” adds Hammer.
To learn more about the Augusta Health Foundation and Augusta Health Community Wellness, call (540) 332-4190.
Waynesboro High School student Lindsey Gorsuch with Teresa Green, RN, school nurse coordinator for Waynesboro Public Schools.