Auto Defibrillators Should Remain

Mariel Rossi deVries, Staff Writer

Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are medical devices available as a safety precaution at many schools. These medical safe guards were installed 8 years ago at all campuses in the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD). Campolidno currently has 4 AEDs on its campus. According to Principal John Walker “There is 1 in the nurses office, and 1 in the theater, 1 in the Soda Center office, and then there is 1 in the trainers’ center in the gymnasium.”

While it might sound like a good idea to have these devices available and to use them when someone experiences cardiac arrest, there has been controversy over whether AEDs are safe, or even effective. A defibrillator administers an electric shock to a person who has experienced sudden cardiac arrest in an effort to reset the heart’s normal rhythm.  Some, including a growing number of concerned parents, want to ensure their children are getting reliable treatment in the event of such an emergency. While a professional operating such a device could be beneficial, it may not be the case when such a device is in the hands of a novice.

Proponents of AEDs would like even more of them installed on campus. Makers of AEDs also encourage schools to increase their numbers on campuses. The school district on the other hand, is still weighing the need to keep people safe with the added expense of maintaining such devices.

While the concerns are valid, this debate is a waste of time. We can’t and shouldn’t take back the money already spent on the defibrillators. They are there for the protection of students and should not be removed. Adding additional machines is unnecessary however, and ill advised.  With the effectiveness of the devices being questioned, it’s not the time to be purchasing more of them.

A single automatic defibrillator costs roughly $2,000. We certainly cannot put a price on the life of a human being. With out such available technology installed on campus, the school could be blamed for their lack, leading to a lawsuit – which could cost the school even more than the expense of purchasing and maintaining an AED.

The district can certainly afford such a potentially life-saving device. With the community’s support through property taxes and Moraga Education Foundation donations, it shouldn’t be a question of cost.

The real concern is that defibrillators may actually be unsafe and ineffective.

Is this true? The Red Cross website says that an AED is “the only effective treatment for restoring a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest.”  They contend AEDs are the only reliable way to start someone’s heart.

Training seems to be the key however. Anyone can use the AED after receiving proper training: “There are teachers who know how to use them, all the administrators know how to use them, and the school nurse,” said Walker.

During a school event, it is assumed that there will always be at least 1 trained person on hand.

When used in the capable hands the defibrillator can save lives.

If a person’s heart stops, the first step is to call 911. In fact, when an AED is used, a signal goes out automatically to the local fire department.

In spite of the costs and concerns, the AEDs we already have need to remain, and should be put to use in capable hands.