St. Charles Herald-Guide

In the news

Staff Report - May 16, 2007

Other newspapers are now reporting that SCP schools could be the first in the state to put heart-starting defibrillators in every school from kindergartens through high schools.

But Herald-Guide readers knew that a week ago. As we reported in our May 10 issue, the school board had been looking into the possibility of outfitting campuses with the life-saving devices that analyze the condition of the heart, and then, if necessary, “jump start” it with a controlled electric shock.

And in a meeting of the Finance Committee on May 14, school officials did indeed approve a plan to buy at least 30 defibrillators for about $40,000, with a final vote slated to be held before the full board.

School system comptroller Jim Melohn said machines are available at a discounted rate through a special state program. Total savings: $4,000.

The board decided that defibrillators are important because fewer than one in 20 people survive sudden cardiac arrest. Athletes - even young ones - can be especially prone to heart difficulties, as can people with heart disease or birth defects.

Studies confirm that that number of deaths from heart attacks can be reduced significantly with the use of defibrillators.

School officials recommended installing them at every school - with high schools set to receive several units because of their rigorous athletics programs. A suggestion that middle schools also need multiple defibrillators was taken seriously, with officials agreeing that the issue should be considered in the future.

Units should be in place & ready to save lives when school starts next fall

Schools Superintendent Rodney Lafon hopes to have the units in schools before the beginning of the 2007 fall term.

School Board member Dennis Naquin came up with the idea of putting the machines in schools. He said the board at least one person at every site should be trained in their use.

Board member John "Jay" Robichaux suggested training as many as want to learn, an idea the board seem to like.