Medstead is keeping in stride as the nation pushes forward in pursuit of making more AEDs (automated external defibrillators) accessible to the general population.
March 28, community members and the school council gathered to learn the specifics of using an AED. The need to take action to make this life saving device accessible was a big topic of the evening.
Greg Knot, vice-principal of Medstead School, is running point for fundraising events for this project. He is generously making himself available through the school for municipal feedback and support as Medstead moves towards being a better-prepared community. Knot offered details as to the necessity of an AED in Medstead School.
“We host the biggest events in town. Our provincials had almost 300 people, grandparents, cheering on the kids. There is real potential for an incident and AEDs that are currently in town are not accessible in the time that would make them effective.”
The reference is to the community’s current AED, which is housed in the village hall, remaining behind locked doors. There is concern about theft of the device. When Dallas Schwartz of the Spiritwood/Big River EMS department was asked whether there has been a known theft of an AED device in the area he indicated, “Not that I am aware of.”
Schwartz led the presentation, which focused on community awareness and safety. Knowledge of these crucial machines can drastically influence the comfort level of those operating them during an emergency situation. Shwartz noted at the commencement of the presentation, “The biggest fear people have about AEDs is that they can kill someone. They absolutely cannot.”
Details were given about correct use of an AED, a small cased device weighing roughly five pounds. The device, ranging anywhere in price from $500 to $10,000, comes with a cloth, razor, two sets of one-time use pads and one set of children’s pads.
The pads, which must be replaced after each use, are approximately $125 per set. The batteries will last for five years, or five codes, and once depleted the entire machine requires replacement. The pad use varies based on age group, which is separated into three sections: infants (up to one year of age), children (one year of age to puberty) and adults (13 and older).
The smaller pads are to be used on the younger two age groups, with placement being on the front and back of an infant and the upper right, bottom left of the chest of the children. Schwartz indicated the pad placement between the two younger age groups can be variable based on size of the person in question. The pads cannot be in too close proximity to one another, thus the front and back situating of the pads on an infant. The placement of upper right and bottom left remains consistent for adults, however the larger pads are to be used.
Safety measures were discussed, noting that body jewelry can be left intact, though a nicotine or fentanyl patch should be removed prior to defibrillation. This section of the presentation also noted the need to ensure that should there be surrounding water, if a foot stomp can make a splash, the patient is to be moved to a dry location.
Significant emphasis was placed on the time leading up to defibrillation. This is a critical factor as five minutes or longer risks irreversible brain damage, according to the Brain Injury Foundation. Schwartz noted, when it comes to AED use, “the sooner the better.”
Shwartz followed up to indicate the best location for an AED is, “wherever there is the best public access.”
The school council meeting that immediately followed the presentation discussed a variety of upcoming fundraisers to garner funds for an AED to be purchased for the school. With respect to an AED best suited for the school, Shwartz indicated, “The average, decent model would cost roughly $1,000.”
With resounding support the decision was made that the school will be taking action to purchase an AED to benefit both the educational institution and the community as a whole.