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AEDs in Schools

Your local schools are likely a pillar of your community. On any given day, roughly 20% of the population in a community is at a school. It’s where hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people of all ages students, teachers, staff, and even family members gather everyday for learning, extracurricular activities such as sports and theater, and community events. 

Schools are well prepared to keep their students, staff, and community at large safe from health and safety risks such as fires and violence. So shouldn’t they also make sure that their campus is prepared to keep everyone safe from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), one of the leading causes of death in the United States?  

Fortunately, there’s a simple and effective solution to help schools be prepared to respond to a cardiac arrest emergency! Having AEDs readily accessible is proven to save the vast majority of people who go into SCA on school campuses. 

Join the movement and buy AEDs for your school to keep everyone your students, teachers, coaches, trainers, staff, visitors, and community at large safe! 

    "I've lived through saving a life with an AED on a school campus, and to imagine an alternative outcome had we not had the AED, is absolutely unbearable. To me, having AEDs readily available is an obvious necessity, not a nice-to-have. School campuses are comprised of not only students, but also teachers, admin, coaches, support staff, and spectators of all ages for after school sports and activities. The thought of losing any life that could be saved, is a tragedy in itself. When I see an AED, I see a life saved. A family saved. Friends and colleagues saved. A community saved."

    – Christina Scherr, Head Athletic Trainer Westview High School (San Diego, CA)

    Why Should Schools Buy AEDs for their Campus?

    Let’s Start With the Facts

    Sudden Cardiac Arrest leads to the death of approximately 350,000 adults per year. and is the leading cause of death for people over the age of 40. Tragically, youth are also at risk and are victims of SCA as well. A few alarming facts are:

    • SCA is the leading cause of death on school campuses
    • SCA is the leading cause of death for student-athletes
    • On average, SCA tragically takes the lives of between 7,000-10,000 youth every year, many of whom are non-athletes

    Protect Your Students, Teachers, Staff, & Community at Large!

    Most youth spend a majority of their time at school and many are legally required to attend. Students are on campus throughout the entire day, whether it’s in the classroom, on the field, at band practice, or with their debate club in the afternoon and evening. For that reason, parents reasonably expect that schools will have the necessary equipment and resources to keep their children safe. Similarly, all of the faculty and staff that spend most of their day on school campuses have the same expectation of their employer. 

    Since both youth and adults alike are at risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, schools need to invest in the deployment and strategic placement of AEDs to increase the likelihood of early defibrillation, and thus survival, in the event that anyone suffers SCA on campus. 

    Having AEDs available can save the lives of students or staff during school hours, and also save the lives of family or community members that gather on campus for school plays or football games in the evening. 

    Make sure your school is doing their part as a pillar of your community to prevent an unexpected, tragic, and preventable loss due to SCA by placing AEDs throughout your campus!

    School AED Programs Save Lives

    SCA survival rates for students have been shown to be approximately 70% at schools that have AEDs available. That’s over 7x higher than the national average survival rate from SCA!

    With that being said, even though there’s been great success shown by simply placing AEDs on school campuses, experts recommend that it’s best to implement a comprehensive School AED Program which includes a well-rehearsed Cardiac Emergency Response Plan (CERP). It’s easy to see why, as research shows that schools that have installed AED Programs with a CERP have achieved SCA survival rates as high as 85%! 

    Learn more about how to implement a successful Comprehensive School AED Program on your campus.

    School AED Resources

    Frequently Asked Questions About School AEDs

    What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and what causes it?

    Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. When a person goes into SCA, they will suddenly collapse and not respond nor breathe normally. They may gasp or shake as if having a seizure. If the victim does not get help right away, they will die within minutes. 

    Normally, the heart beats in a coordinated pattern that is controlled by electrical impulses. These electrical signals tell the heart muscle when to contract so that it can effectively pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. During SCA, these signals become scrambled and cause an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia. Specifically, the heart enters what is called ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, two deadly rhythms in which the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the brain or other vital organs. Learn more about arrhythmias and what causes sudden cardiac arrest! 

    What does an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) do?

    An AED is the only treatment for a victim of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). The device is used to deliver a life-saving defibrillation shock to the victim to restart their heart into a normal rhythm so that the heart can start pumping blood effectively again throughout their body.

    How do I make sure my school is prepared for a cardiac arrest emergency?

    While it’s a fantastic first step to place AEDs on your campus, an equally important next step is making sure your campus is prepared to respond to a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) emergency. 

    How do you do that? Well, the best way is to put a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan (CERP) in place for your campus. Just like your faculty conducts fire drills, the CERP will have the campus to conduct regular drills to practice responding to an SCA emergency. 

    Is my school required to have an AED?

    Different states have different laws regarding AEDs in schools. Want to learn more about your state? Read the 2020 updated School AED legislation guide.

    How many AEDs does my school need?

    At the absolute minimum, your school needs one AED that is accessible at all hours of the day. Ideally, this device is “mobile” on campus and is taken to the athletic facilities for after school sporting events where a cardiac arrest is most likely to occur on a school campus. 

    However, if financially feasible, it’s highly recommended that you purchase enough AEDs for your school such that an AED is accessible within a two minute round trip brisk walk from anywhere on campus. 


    Who typically runs a School AED Program?

    Most often a school’s AED program is run by either the school nurse, athletic trainer, or athletic director. However, by no means are these the only faculty members that can take on this responsibility, as anyone who is present on campus at least once per week can be responsible for a school’s AED program. 

    Where should I place the AEDs in my school?

    Every school campus is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Here are a few guidelines that you should follow when deciding where to place AEDs on your campus: 

    • Make sure your AED’s placement is such that the device is noticeable and easily accessible by any bystander. AEDs in a locked cabinet or the Principal’s office do nobody any good!
    • Prioritize placement near athletic facilities given those are the highest risk areas for someone being a victim of SCA 
    • If you are able to purchase multiple AEDs for your school, it’s best to strategically place the devices such that an AED is always accessible within a two minute brisk walk from anywhere on campus


    How much do AEDs cost?

    AEDs generally cost between $1,200 – $3,000 for the upfront purchase of the device. However, it’s very important to note that the upfront purchase of the device is not the only expense that you’ll incur for each of your AED units. 

    Instead, you need to look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for each unit when evaluating which AED model you want to purchase. The TCO includes the cost of replacing key components of your device after they expire such as the battery and electrode pads to ensure your AED is ready to use in an emergency. 

    TCO for an AED = Upfront AED purchase price + future batteries + future electrode pads + any other supplies that might be required over a given timeframe


    How should I fund my school’s AED program?

    There are lots of ways to get your AED program funded! Here are four ways that other school’s have seen success with obtaining funding: 

    • Pursuing local grants and sponsorships from nonprofits and/or companies
    • Partner with a local health system or hospital
    • Pursue grants from “like-minded” national corporations
    • Work with your community to organize a fundraiser

    Learn how other schools have successfully utilized these strategies to fund their school’s AED Program!

    How do I keep my school’s AEDs maintained?

    It’s important to note that nearly every AED model has distinct maintenance requirements. To learn the maintenance requirements for each AED model consult the manufacturer guidelines. per the manufacturer guidelines, please visit this link.

    Also, the maintenance of your AEDs can be made easier by purchasing a device that has built-in “connectivity” features. Learn more about why “connectivity” features are valuable to reduce the burden of maintenance for your school’s AEDs


    How often does a cardiac arrest emergency occur on a school campus?

    A lot more often than one would think. Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the leading cause of death on school campuses. To put that into context for high schools specifically, in 2017, the American College of Cardiology reported that 2 out of every 50 high schools should expect an SCA to occur on their campus every year. 

    While an SCA emergency may not occur on your campus this year, or next year… the data shows that it will eventually happen. Just like you prepare your school for the incredibly small chance that a fire breaks out, you need to prepare your school for the day that an SCA will occur on your campus. 

    You don’t want to be “the school” that purchases AEDs only after tragedy strikes on your campus. Be proactive!


    Are AEDs proven to save lives from Sudden Cardiac Arrest when placed on school campuses?

    Absolutely! Multiple studies have shown that placing AEDs in schools is proven to significantly increase survival rates from SCA emergencies on school campuses to over 70%! That’s 7x higher than the 10% national average survival rate from SCA! 

    Want to learn more? Read about research that shows higher SCA survival rates on school campuses that have AEDs…the data doesn’t lie!

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