St. Charles Herald-Guide

Board may equip EVERY SCHOOL with a heart-startin’ defibrillator

By Caleb Frey - May 9, 2007

The St. Charles Parish School Board may become the first in Louisiana to put a heart-starting defibrillator in each of its schools in case somebody has a heart attack.

The idea was brought before the board at the finance committee meeting. Darla Rebowe,  coordinator of nurses for the schools, brought one of the machines to the meeting to show how easy it is to use them.

“This is something needed in St. Charles Parish Schools,” she said, adding: “We are seeing a younger population coming in with cardiac arrest.

“Because of the drug world out there we don’t know what these kids are coming to school with in their systems.”
According to the American Red Cross, the machine, commonly known in the medical profession as an “AED” - automated external defibrillator, is a device about the size of a laptop computer.

It analyzes the heart's rhythm for any abnormalities and, if necessary, directs the rescuer to deliver an electrical shock to the victim.

This shock, called defibrillation, may help the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm of its own.
Rebowe - an emergency-room nurse for 27 years - says the machines truly are lifesavers.

“I see dead people coming into ER that if they would have had something like this in the field, they would still be alive,” Rebowe said.

The units cost $1,400 apiece and the board is still weighing the options of where to get the funding from. But Rebowe said she would like to see one in each school and administration building and two in the larger schools.

Board member John “Jay” Robichaux said he’s been trying to get these in place for at least the last couple years but wants to be sure the correct training is in place when it comes time for one to be used in an real-life emergency setting.

“It would be the worst thing in the world to have one of these and nobody knows how to use it,” Robichaux said.
He suggested a night of training would be a good idea before they were placed in schools.

Reach Caleb Frey at calebf@heraldguide.com