Marion County schools are working to become more heart safe environment

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FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Schools across West Virginia are working with medical professionals to create a more heart safe environment for all faculty and students.

Marion County, specifically, is working with their Emergency Rescue Squad to help reduce cost and ultimately, reduce the amount of cardiac deaths happen within schools.

The West Virginia Heart Safe Schools Project is a mission trying to prepare individuals better for cardiac emergencies, and help reduce sudden cardiac deaths in young children. The goal is to have an immediate plan of action when these sudden instances occur.

John Phillip is a doctor in pediatrics at WVU, and he is the medical director of the project. He said having the equipment is one thing, knowing what to do is what we want schools to be learn and be prepared for.

“Over 90 percent of our school throughout the state have AED’s in place, so that part is great that we have that, but we need a process in place to deploy the AED, to have people CPR trained,” said Phillips. “Having a system, so if a child does become unconscious or does go down from a cardiac arrest, we can save them quickly and efficiently.”

Candice Hamilton, the project coordinator, is a resident of Marion County which is where her passion for getting this training program started comes from.

“I think it’s one of the most important health initiatives I”ve been a part of,” said Hamilton. “As a mom, and a citizen of Marion County, but also a resident in West Virginia, I think it’s an opportunity for us to be first in getting a designation, like this, in our counties and then throughout our state.”

Hamilton’s passion about her native county helped her push to get the Marion County Emergency Rescue Squad involved as well. They will be going to the local schools to help teach staff, faculty, and students how to use an AED, teach them proper CPR and also educate them in cardiac emergencies and what the steps are to be taken in case something were o happen.

“We are hoping in Marion County to be pretty proactive in the training, and education awareness,” said Donna Wade, Marion County EMT. “It will consist of getting them CPR trained and being more aware with an AED when they are using it.”

Four minutes can change the entire outcome.

“The goal is to have a child who goes down like that, or an adult for that matter, to be defibrillated within four minutes,” said Phillips. “After four minutes the chances of survival decreases, and brain damage if they do increases.”

Having the equipment in the building is phase one. Knowing what to do with it in a high pressure situation is the next. Because when it comes to the heart minutes can end up saving a persons life.

“It could be life or death. You know three or for minutes, time is muscle with the heart. So, every minute of doing CPR verses not, that could change the whole outcome of the call,” said Wade.

“I have witnessed what its like to lose someone like this. These are preventable deaths,” said Hamilton. “So, I think there’s nothing more important than putting anything in place we can to prevent a tragic loss.”

Training will be implemented as soon as the Board of Education makes the final approval.

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