Under a new law passed by Virginia’s General Assembly this year, every public school across the state will be required to have a defibrillator on hand and ready to be used in case of emergency.
The legislation calls for each school to have an automated external defibrillator, or AED, which is a medical device that delivers a therapeutic shock to the heart in the event of cardiac arrest. The devices are becoming more common in public places, and their presence in schools has become increasingly beneficial.
Previously, it was optional for Virginia schools to have AEDs.
“It’s always good to have that if someone goes down, whether they are a student or a faculty member,” said Babur Lateef, who chairs the Prince William County School Board.
Lateef is also a physician.
“The more we have them in public settings, I think, the more likely they will be used to save lives,” said Lateef. “Just to have that capability is an added plus when you’re doing CPR, if that’s something that’s required.”
It is not clear how many school districts in Virginia already have AEDs.
“Prince William County schools have had them in all schools already for numerous years,” Lateef said.
The Fairfax County Public school system has nearly 700 of them, according to spokeswoman Julie Moult.
“Every FCPS building is equipped with multiple AEDs,” Moult said. “One is located directly adjacent to every one of our gyms.”
Loudoun County Public Schools spokesman Dan Adams said that, “LCPS has AEDs in all schools, facilities and in other vital locations, such as athletic fields.”
They can be pricey, costing about $1,500 per unit.
According to Parent Heart Watch, a nonprofit group that raises awareness of heart emergencies in youth, “sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death on school campuses.”
The group said that “92% of victims die because emergency aid is not delivered within 3 to 5 minutes.”
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