By Curt Yeomans
Felicia Brown, principal of Babb Middle School in Forest Park, hopes no one will ever need to be resuscitated by an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) while they are at her school. But, the school now has two AEDs, in case one is needed.
The school is the first of eight public schools in Forest Park to receive AEDs from the Forest Park Fire Department. The department is putting AEDs in all of the schools within the city limits to make sure the children attending those schools can remain safe. Eleven AEDs will be installed at the schools. Babb and Forest Park middle schools, and Forest Park High School will each receive two AEDs.
The city's five elementary schools will each receive one AED, and one pediatric pad. Babb Middle School's AEDs were delivered to the school on Wednesday by Major Matt Jackson, emergency medical services director for the Forest Park Fire Department.
"We're excited to have received the defibrillators, because we can actually take care of someone in case an AED is needed," Brown said. "We just hope we'll never have to use them."
Babb got the honor of being first to receive the devices because it was the first school, in which all staff members who signed up for AED and CPR training have completed the course. The training is provided by the American Heart Association.
Three staff members at Babb Middle School signed up for the training. They are Assistant Principal Julie Brown; Athletic Director Phillip Shiflet, and Physical Education Teacher Diane Carter. Jackson said there are about 50 staff members, from all of the schools in Forest Park, who have signed up for the AED and CPR training.
The AEDs are being provided for the schools by a $13,000 community grant from the Clorox Corporation, Jackson said.
"Normally, one AED costs about $1,500," Jackson said. "Since we ordered them in bulk, we were able to get them for a little under $1,000 a piece. Two AEDs are going to each middle school, and the high school, due to the sporting events, which go on at those schools. We've seen a lot of cases across the country in recent years where athletes go into cardiac arrest at events like football games."
One of Babb's new AEDs was placed in the front office by school system maintenance workers. The other AED was placed in the school's gymnasium.
The AEDs tell the user where to place the pad. The user turns the AED on after the pads are placed on the person's body, and the machine then checks the vital signs of the person it has been attached to. It will not administer a charge, if it determines the body does not need one. The AED can only be used by someone who has been trained to use it.
Eddie Buckholts, chief of the Forest Park Fire Department, said the department's goal is to, someday, have AEDs in every government-owned building in the city.
"We felt like the schools were a pretty good place to start," he said.