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Sparkman named Heart-Safe School, offers AED training

Alabama Lifestart Director Cris Brown, along with Barbara Mostella and Dr. Yung Lau of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, worked to organize Alabama Lifestart that promotes Heart-Safe School designations. (CONTRIBUTED)
Alabama Lifestart Director Cris Brown, along with Barbara Mostella and Dr. Yung Lau of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, worked to organize Alabama Lifestart that promotes Heart-Safe School designations. (CONTRIBUTED)

HARVEST – New equipment and training at Sparkman High School possibly can save lives with the school’s qualification as a “Heart-Safe School.”

Sparkman officials worked with Alabama LifeStart for the coverage. Sparkman has agreed to add automated external defibrillator (AED) training to its classroom curriculum.

For its efforts, Sparkman received a free AED from LifeStart.

Fifty years ago, fire extinguishers were rare but now are commonplace in schools. Today, AEDS also need to be commonly available in schools, Adam Kelley said. Kelley works as corporate communications manager for Children’s of Alabama.

Alabama LifeStart, Children’s of Alabama and Lord Wedgwood Charity collaborated in 2011 to equip all public middle, junior and senior high schools in Alabama with at least one AED. Unfortunately, not all teachers, administrators or students know how to use the devices quickly in an emergency.

This upcoming school year, students at about 30 heart-safe schools will have the opportunity to learn how to use an AED in case of a sudden cardiac arrest emergency.

Sparkman “is being proactive in making sure that its students are safe. AED training is already saving lives in Alabama,” Kelley said.

Kelley cited a football player who suffered cardiac arrest during practice in August at Spanish Fort High School. “Because (the staff) was properly trained and had an AED on-site, trainers and coaches were able to save the student’s life,” he said.

“Each year, many high-school age children in the United States die from sudden cardiac arrest,” Dr. Yung Lau said. Lau is medical director of Alabama LifeStart and a pediatric electrophysiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Lau and nurse Barbara Mostella at UAB worked with Cris Brown to create Alabama LifeStart to solve this need. Brown now serves as LifeStart director.

By the end of 2014, Alabama LifeStart will have provided more than 200 schools in the state with free AEDs and support for AED training. For more information, visit childrensal.org/heart.

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