Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in Philadelphia Public Schools: Implementation of Cardiac Emergency Response Programs

students learning CPR




Professor Of Pediatrics At The Children's Hospital Of Philadlephia, Perelman School Of Medicine Of The University Of Pennsylvani

Project Summary

This summer, I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Victoria Vetter in the Cardiology department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We worked on a project about sudden cardiac arrest and AEDs in Pennsylvania public schools. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heartbeat stops suddenly & without warning due to the failure of the heart’s electrical function. Sudden cardiac death occurs if emergency treatment with CPR and an AED does not occur. In fact, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death on school campuses accounting for 75% of all athlete related deaths. Yet, there are only twenty states that mandate all schools to have AEDS and Pennsylvania is not one of them.

My project consisted of calling all the schools in four different Pennsylvania counties. I called around 200 schools in 2 of the counties and my colleague call the schools in the other 2 counties. We found that most schools actually had AED’s, but they are not reporting them. However, it was also the case that some schools did not have enough AEDs for their student population. It is recommended that there is one AED for every 500 students and that they are placed in easily accessible locations with a 2-3 minute turnaround. Without enough AEDs and without them being placed in strategic locations, schools run the risk of more time passing before an AED can be placed on a person suffering from SCA. Taking measures such as having enough AEDs and putting them in strategic locations will ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to survive an SCA regardless of his or her location within the school building.

Being a part of this project has made me realize just how much more work has to be done in terms of having enough AED’s and school safety. It made me realize that I personally do not know where the AEDs are on Penn’s campus should anything happen which is a problem. I really appreciated being a part of this project because is really aiming to make a difference in Pennsylvania first and foremost, and hopefully beyond in the future.

Aside from the work on the project, I got the opportunity to shadow Dr. Vetter in clinic, on rounds, and in the ECG lab. I also learned how to do ECG’s. This summer has been very helpful in helping me explore different areas of medicine. As a result, I am very much considering Cardiology and Electrophysiology as a specialty after medical school.