Get defibrillators in all schools - Heart Foundation
Heart Foundation of Jamaica Director of Emergency Cardiac Care, Dr Hugh Wong, has said that it should be mandated that every school across the island be equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED) to properly prepare for heart-related emergencies that may arise.
Wong was speaking at yesterday's Editors' Forum and he said that this call is especially with regard to the deaths of St George's College's Dominic James, during a Manning Cup game last September, and Spot Valley High's Saymar Ramsey after a basketball game in November.
"It should be mandated that everywhere (including sporting events) where you have a public gathering of 300 or more persons, you should have a defibrillator available, whether temporarily or permanently," Wong said.
An AED is a device which applies a current across the heart that stuns it and allows its dominant pacemaker to start beating and contracting properly, to resume blood flow.
Consultant cardiologist at the Foundation, Dr Marilyn Lawrence-Wright, said that they want to ensure that everyone, especially coaches of various school teams, know how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or chest compressions, as they are also known. However, she said that this alone is not enough.
"If you don't respond (to a cardiac arrest) within three minutes, then that's basically it for the most part," she said. "For every minute that you lose, you're going to have a decrease in survival anywhere between seven to ten per cent."
Wong agreed, saying that CPR gives a wider window than three to four minutes for proper help to arrive for the individual.
"You only get 30 per cent of your expected output from chest compressions. That is sufficient to keep you going until the machine arrives. Chest compressions alone will not revive someone if the heart is quivering." he said.
Last October, Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB) - a non-profit organisation, donated 15 AEDs to secondary schools across the island and these were given with the intention of serving not only these schools but also the wider communities in which they exist.
A coach of one of these schools told The Gleaner that TJB held a workshop to instruct all receiving coaches on how to properly use the AEDs in an emergency.
Although Education Minister Ruel Reid did not say at the time whether the ministry will give specific focus to equipping more schools with more of these devices, he said that it will be committing $30 million towards a three-year programme aimed at improving sports health in Jamaica.
He said that this will fund medical equipment and $10 million will be spent each year to improve medical emergency standards at sporting events for student athletes.