January 18, 2012

Maury Regional Health Care Foundation provides funds for school AEDs

The difference between life and death can sometimes be measured in minutes, especially when it comes to cardiac arrest. In many cases, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have made that difference and, thanks to a $12,200 donation from the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation, 12 of the life-saving devices are now being installed in Maury County schools. This is the third Maury County Schools project funded by the foundation, resulting in more than $21,000 allocated to support their needs.

The Maury Regional Health Care Foundation assists Maury Regional Medical Center and its affiliates in expanding health care services and community outreach programs in a variety of ways. Projects have included support for a hospitality house for families of cancer patients receiving long-term treatment at Maury Regional’s Cancer Center, and, most recently, for The Women’s Center/YMCA After Breast Cancer Program. Executive Director Joe Kilgore said there is a simple reason for the Foundation’s support of the AED in schools effort.

“When the Foundation’s allocation’s committee was considering the funding of AEDs for the schools, we came to the conclusion that if they helped save the life of just one person, the funds would have been well spent,” said Kilgore.

An AED is a device that automatically analyzes the heart rhythm and, if it detects a problem that may respond to an electrical shock, permits a shock to be delivered to restore a normal heart rhythm. Because of their small size and ease of use, AEDs have been installed in many schools, airports and other public settings.

“AEDs have served an important role in expanding the number of opportunities for life-saving defibrillation,” said Maury Regional Emergency Medical Services Basic Life Support Supervisor Doug Rutherford. “We’re grateful to the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation for making it possible for the schools in Maury County to each have at least one AED on the premises.”

According to a report published in 2009, a survey of high schools with AED programs where a cardiac arrest had taken place during the previous six months, 64 percent of the victims (students and non-students) survived to hospital discharge (MedPage Today). Researchers also indicated that 83.5 percent of the schools had an emergency action plan in place for responding to sudden cardiac arrest (Circulation: Journey of the American Heart Association).

 “This is a dream come true. Having AEDs in each of our schools has been a goal that I, Laura Hughes and Doug Rutherford have had for a few years but the financial obstacle was just too great,” said Maury County Schools Supervisor of Transportation and Safety Bobby Anderson. “We are grateful to the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation for providing this funding and to Maury Regional EMS for providing the training for our staff.”

Laura Hughes is the Maury County Coordinated School Health Coordinator and a member of the Maury County Health Council. As a member of the council’s youth subcommittee, she is active in many projects promoting youth safety.

 “We are so lucky to have partners whose goals match our own,” said Hughes. “Student and public safety in our buildings is a top priority. Having this life-saving resource in each school is a huge plus for our community.”

Rutherford said school AEDs were one of his top priorities since first joining Maury Regional’s Emergency Services unit in 2008. He held the first training session at Randolph Howell Elementary School on January 7 for staff members who will serve on the school’s emergency response team.

“Having these AEDs and a team trained in how to handle a cardiac emergency will make it possible to save lives,” Rutherford told the group. “There is a greater survival rate among those who have a cardiac arrest when they can be helped within just a few minutes, as will now be the case in our schools.” Rutherford said he anticipates each of the new AED units will be installed and school emergency response teams trained by the end of January.