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Children’s hospital, district install lifesaving devices in schools

August 30, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida and Lee County School District recently announced the installation of automated external defibrillators in all middle and elementary schools.

The AEDs were purchased with a $150,000 donation from the hospital.

According to the Lee Health Foundation, the island communities have continued to be long-time supporters of the hospital, many through the annual SanCap Cares Island Celebration event.

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The Lee County Department of Public Safety provided AED training to school faculty.

"This past March, several families donated to the project that helped make the AED program possible," Tiffany Whitaker, senior director of foundation marketing, said. "They were instrumental in supporting Golisano Children Hospital's endeavor in our community."

Every school in the district has now earned the Project Adam Heart Safe designation.

Project Adam began in 1999 following the death of a student in Wisconsin who suffered from sudden cardiac arrest while playing basketball. To earn the designation, schools must implement an awareness, training and response program to be prepared in case of a cardiac episode.

The initiative to install the devices and train response teams in Lee County was a team effort between Lee Health, the school district, Project Adam and the Lee County Department of Public Safety.

In December, Fort Myers High School freshman Zac Syska suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest while running with his team, and his life was saved by an AED. As part of his Eagle Scout service project, he spent his recent summer vacation assisting the school district in earning the heart safe designation.

"More often than not, sudden cardiac arrest in children and adolescents occurs without prior symptoms or warning. Thankfully an AED and trained operator saved Zac's life. He is our inspiration," Armando Llechu, chief administrative officer of Golisano Children's Services, said at the time. "The devices being donated today will make the schools in our region safer and the training provided by our EMS partners will help staff better prepare for potential life-threatening emergencies. A heartfelt thank you to the Golisano Children's Hospital donors and all of our community partners who made today possible."

Every school also has a team of three to five staff members who underwent training on the proper use of the devices and how to implement and emergency plan at their schools. As schools are often used as shelters or host visitors, the AEDs are equipped with both pediatric and adult-sized pads.

"The immediate use of an AED can be lifesaving if needed during an emergency cardiac response. Only high schools were equipped with an AED, and now all elementary schools, middle schools and special centers will also have an AED in a quickly accessible location," Sue Grohs, assistant director of Health Services for the district, said. "The district is very grateful to Golisano Children's Hospital for this very generous gift."

Community outreach initiatives to ensure the health and safety of Southwest Florida's youth such as this proactive program are funded through Lee Health Foundation's Little Red Wagon Fund.



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