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NAEMT Releases New Position Statement on AEDs for Emergency Cardiac Care in Schools

Jan 06, 2009

Considering that sudden cardiac arrest is one the leading causes of death in young athletes during sporting events, NAEMT has released a new position statement on emergency cardiac care in schools.

In the position statement, NAEMT supports the development of emergency action plans for all schools which require automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to be readily accessible at all school and public activities on school property.

Public access to an AED is an important link in the chain of survival from sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden death is estimated to occur in one out of every 200,000 high school athletes — about 100 events per year. Ninety percent of the victims are male and 70 percent come from football and basketball. Although sudden cardiac death is a rare event in school age youth and children, attendees at school activities include adults who may be at risk. Additionally, schools are community gathering places and often serve as sites for mass care and shelter during a disaster. Thus, it is crucial that school emergency action plans include training school staff in CPR with AED and in emergency first aid in conjunction with calling 911 in the case of a serious medical condition or injury.

Each year in the United States, 220,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest. Before complete arrest, the heart often develops ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia — irregular heart rhythms in which the heart muscle contractions are disorganized and stop pumping blood effectively. The sooner defibrillation is provided via an AED, the better a victim’s chance of survival. With each passing minute, the odds of survival are reduced by seven to 10 percent. Early defibrillation is a key link in the survival chain that includes early recognition of the problem, early CPR and early notification of the emergency medical services system (calling 911).  

For the full position statement and other NAEMT position statements, please visit our Positions page.