Tuesday, August 28, 2007

are defibrillators worth the cost?

Our school has one: it's kept at the office, within sprinting range of most of the campus. But are automatic external defibrillators, which can cost thousands in implementation and training, worth the investment? An area study says "maybe."
A nationwide push to put portable defibrillators in every school, a response to several high-profile student deaths, may not be worth the cost, a new study concludes.

The survey of emergency response to schools in the Seattle area over 16 years found that students suffered cardiac arrests only 12 times and a third of these children had known heart problems.

Most of the cardiac arrests at schools between 1990 to 2005 involved adults - teachers, volunteers or people just walking on school property. And they occurred much more often in high schools and middle schools than elementary schools.

"I certainly have no objection to AEDs (automated external defibrillators)," said one of the researchers, Dr. Tom Rea, of the University of Washington's Harborview Medical Center. He's also medical director for King County Medic One, the county's emergency medical service.

But not every school has the money for a defibrillator, which each cost an average of $1,000 to $3,000, not including the cost to train school staff, he said. They decided to do the study after several states mandated the purchase of defibrillators for schools and others were considering similar measures, he said.
It sounds like mandatory CPR training might be a better investment--especially since CPR techniques need to be changed to reflect current research.

Best line of the article comes near the end: "According to the study, schools are one of the best places for adults to suffer cardiac arrest."

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