Violently rolling her shoulders and flaying her arms, Nan Keipper instructs the more than 30 health professionals and school officials Tuesday to follow her lead in a classroom of Doctors Hospital.
"Now you know what it's like to be in fibrillation," she said.
A saleswoman for CF Medical Inc. in Duluth, Ga., Keipper demonstrated the use of automated external defibrillators - devices that deliver electric shocks to the heart in case of cardiac arrest.
"(While fibrillating) your heart quivers like a bowl of Jello," she said. "AEDs make that stop."
Doctors Hospital and the American Heart Association recently split the cost for about 100 AEDs, purchased from CF Medical for $150,000, that will be donated to public schools in Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties, and to Augusta State University, Augusta Technical College and Paine College.
Safety on playing fields and the need for AEDs became a growing concern for Columbia County school officials when several football players were severely injured last fall.
In November, Lakeside High School and Greenbrier Middle School became the first two public schools in Columbia County to purchase AEDs.
The AEDs will be set up in glass cases and hung from the walls of each school like fire extinguishers.
While the instances of a student suffering from cardiac arrest are rare, Columbia County Schools Nurse Supervisor Julie Howard said the AEDs, like fire extinguishers, are a preventative measure, just in case.
"The odds of a school catching on fire are rare, but if it does, you certainly feel better knowing a fire extinguisher is already there instead of waiting for the fire department," she said. "It's the same principle with the AEDs. If something does happen, you want to be ready for it."
Speakers at the hospital luncheon also preached pros of early preparation.
"Sudden cardiac arrest kills more people each year than breast cancer, prostate cancer, AIDS, house fires, handguns and traffic accidents combined," said Heyward Wells, Doctors Hospital's assistant vice president of productivity.
About 220,000 people die annually from sudden cardiac arrest, Wells said. Had an AED been close at hand, many of those deaths could have been prevented.
Following the onset of sudden cardiac arrest, each minute a victim fibrillates, their odds of survival decrease 7 to 10 percent, Wells said.
He said the average response time for an ambulance is 12 minutes. After 10 minutes, it is doubtful a heart attack victim can be resuscitated.
The joint program between Doctors Hospital and the American Heart Association provides AEDs and training to school personnel for use during school hours, sporting events, school plays and virtually any event taking place at school.
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