2002-03-09 / Community

Pheffer Pushes School Health And Safety

Pheffer Pushes School Health And Safety

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer recently sponsored legislation, which passed the Assembly, to protect the health of students, faculty and community members attending school functions. Assembly Bill 8779-A would help place life saving defibrillators in schools.

Assemblywoman Pheffer's legislation would require public school facilities that accommodate 1,000 or more people to maintain a cardiac automated external defibrillator (AED) on the premises, and have at least one staff person trained to use the device for school-sponsored and school-approved functions.

Assemblywoman Pheffer reports that approximately 225,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest in the United States each year. Survival rates range from one to five percent in most communities; but those odds could increase to as much as 30 to 50 percent if cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillators were used within five minutes of an attack.

In March 2000, a 14-year-old lacrosse player from a Suffolk County high school blocked a routine shot with his chest. The blow threw his heart into an abnormal rhythm, which ultimately cost him his life. Had a defibrillator been available, his life may have been saved.

An AED is a small, portable device that analyzes a patient's heart rhythm and tells its operator (through computerized voice instructions) when to press the button to shock the patient. They are safe and easy to use, even by individuals who are not medical professionals.

"In most cases, an electrical shock is needed to restore the heart's normal rhythm after cardiac arrest," Assemblywoman Pheffer said. "Cardiac arrest patients have a much better chance of survival if they are treated quickly with a defibrillator. My legislation makes this proven technology more widely available. It is well worth the cost, because it can dramatically increase a child's chance of survival."

Health officials have encouraged making defibrillators more available in public places. Currently, the federal government requires AED’s to be placed in all federal buildings, and most commercial airlines carry an AED aboard passenger planes.

"You cannot place a price tag on the lives of our children," stated Pheffer. "I am hopeful that the governor also recognizes the need for this bill and will sign it into law immediately."

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