Waldwick – One school trustee’s question about external life-saving equipment and related training got to the heart of the matter at the Feb. 8 Board of Education meeting.
A resolution to purchase batteries for automated external defibrillators raised concern by trustee Joseph Orlak, who wondered about whether staff and students are trained to use potential life-saving equipment such as AEDs and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation during an emergency.
Orlak asked about the status of training students on AETs and CPR when a consent agenda item allocating $981.95 for batteries for AEDs was raised. He asked whether students can opt to get a certificate to perform both AED and CPR. Orlak said he thought the certification only cost $5 and Superintendent Paul Casarico said they encourage students to get certified.
Casarico later said all students are trained on how to use an AED and CPR by graduation. He said “the majority” of staff are AED-certified.”
An AED is a portable, battery-operated electronic device that can diagnose life-threatening heart conditions such as arrhythmias and automatically treat them with defribillation, or electrical stimulation, to re-establish a normal heart rhythm.
In an email on Feb. 9, Casarico said that four AEDs are at the junior/senior high school and two each at Crescent and Traphagen elementary schools. The AEDs are “inside and outside of the buildings,” he said.
Orlak mentioned Sean Fisher in raising his concern about AEDs and CPR. Fisher was a 13-year-old Waldwick High School student who collapsed, and later died, while at football practice in 2008. Fisher suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a silent disease that causes thickening of heart muscle, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. In some cases, the heart may stop due to the condition, causing death.
His parents since founded a foundation that funds heart screenings for athletes and students at Waldwick High School annually. The screenings – free – began in 2010 and check for HCM and other heart conditions.
This year’s screenings will take place from March 7 to 11 in the high school auditorium.