Objective: The placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools and public sporting venues is a growing national trend. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and utilization of AEDs in Washington State high schools and examine existing emergency preparedness for sudden cardiac arrest.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Setting: High schools in Washington State.
Participants: The principal at each high school in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (N=407) was invited to complete a web-based questionnaire using the National Registry for AED Use in Sports (www.AEDSPORTS.com).
Main Outcome Measurements: The primary outcome measures studied included AED prevalence and location, funding for AEDs, AED training of school personnel, coordination of AED placement with local emergency response agencies, and prior AED utilization.
Results: One-hundred eighteen schools completed the survey (29% response rate). Fifty-four percent (64/118) of schools have at least one AED on school grounds (mean 1.6, range 1-4). The likelihood of AED placement increased with larger school size (p = 0.044). Sixty percent of AEDs were funded by donations, 27% by the school district, and 11% by the school or athletic department itself. Coaches (78%) were the most likely to receive AED training, followed by administrators (72%), school nurses (70%), and teachers (48%). Only 25% of schools coordinated the implementation of AEDs with an outside medical agency and only 6% of schools coordinated with the local emergency medical system. One school reported a prior AED use to treat sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in a basketball official who survived following a single shock. The estimated probability of AED use to treat SCA was 1 in 154 schools per year.
Conclusions: Over half of Washington State high schools have an AED on school grounds. AED use occurred in less than 1% of schools annually and was effective in the treatment of SCA. Funding of AED programs was mostly through private donations with little coordination with local emergency response teams. Significant improvement is needed in structuring emergency response plans and training targeted rescuers for a SCA in the high school setting.
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