EXTON − November 2, 2022 − State Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks) joined several parents, students, administrators, and advocates at United Way of Chester County yesterday to announce a $354,240 grant to create a pilot program that will put a brand new automated external defibrillator (AED) in every public school building across Senate District 44.
The grant, funded through Pennsylvania’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, will be distributed to the Chester County Intermediate Unit which will facilitate the program for the school districts in Senate District 44 across Chester, Montgomery, and Berks Counties.
“When we discuss school safety, we cannot ignore the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest for our students. After meeting with parents and advocates from Aidan’s Heart Foundation who have turned tragedy into a call for action, we knew we could do more and I am excited that this funding will go to programs that protect our students and address a need in our school buildings,” Muth said. “This program will put 128 new AEDs in 128 school buildings in school districts across Chester County, Montgomery County and Berks County. Like so many public safety grants – we hope we never have to use a single one of these AEDs, but we need to be prepared and properly equipped to save the lives of anyone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.”
In addition to adding a new AED to each school building in SD44 – the pilot program will also require enhanced reporting requirements about AED locations in school buildings and other important device information. The program will also prioritize AED User Training and ensure each school building has a safety team leader who would be required to participate in an annual training/professional development regarding AED use and CPR.
“Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the NUMBER ONE cause of death among teen athletes on school property, claiming the lives of almost 9,000 young people every year. Only 5% of cardiac arrest victims survive, due in part to lack of availability of public access AEDs. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time, without symptoms or warning signs. Young people are particularly at risk as a result of the COVID-19 virus’ impact on the heart, as we are seeing an unprecedented rise in myocarditis,” Christy Marshall-Silva, President, Aidan’s Heart Foundation, said. “We owe it to our kids to put in place these simple, inexpensive, life-saving measures to equip our schools with AEDs and train our school safety teams in CPR and AED skills. The availability of these devices and appropriate response using three simple steps of Call-Push-Shock can make all the difference when a young heart suddenly stops beating.”
Aidan’s Heart Foundation will partner with Chester County Intermediate Unit to incorporate an annual cardiac safety drill at each participating school district that will be performed with staff and led by the safety team during a school in-service day.
“When we talk about school safety as a priority, we think about ensuring that our buildings are secure against outside threats. While this is extremely important, it is imperative that our students are protected and safe in the event of a medical emergency as well,” said Dr. George F. Fiore, Executive Director of the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). “On behalf of the districts across Chester County, I want to thank Senator Muth and the United Way of Chester County for providing the necessary and life-saving resources and training to educators and staff in the unfortunate event that an individual experiences Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Additionally, we are honored to support the work of Aidan’s Heart Foundation in creating safer learning environments for all children.”
The eligible schools include Owen J. Roberts, Phoenixville, Downingtown, Coatesville, Twin Valley, Octorara, and Great Valley in Chester County; Pottsgrove, Perkiomen Valley, Norristown, Spring-Ford, and Methacton in Montgomery County; and Boyertown and Daniel Boone in Berks County.
Other participants in the press conference included Blair Allen, a survivor of sudden cardiac arrest event while a student at Villa Maria Academy; Tom Mulvey, Principal, Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center, Downingtown Area School District; Dylan Blair, a senior at Downingtown West High School, who organized a basketball fundraiser to purchase an AED for a local school; and Louis Oswald, Sebastian Villarose and Will Shook, sixth grade student at Downingtown Area School District who organized a fundraiser to place two AEDs in their elementary school.