A host of undetected cardiac problems exist within any sizeable school population, and some school activities (especially athletics) may exacerbate these difficulties:
- Myopathies - an estimated 1 in every 300 to 500 children may suffer from an unusually thick heart muscle - an often undetected condition that can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death.
- Long QT Syndrome is a lengthening of the time it takes the heart to recharge its electrical system following each heartbeat. Long QT may run in families and can result in cardiac arrest.
- Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome results in electrical signals reaching the heart prematurely. Rapid heart rhythm is the normal result, but in rare instances, cardiac arrest may occur.
- Commodio Cordis results from blunt impact to the chest during the re-polarization phase of the cardiac cycle, for example, a ball striking the chest of a healthy athlete.
Even schools for young children have many adults present every day. Teachers, custodians, office staff, and volunteers are among those whose lives will be protected through the placement of an AED.
Schools provide a natural placement option for public access defibrillation (PAD) programs. While hospitals and other public buildings tend to be located in population centers, the more uniform distribution of schools puts life-saving technology nearer to those residents most at risk for long delays from EMS.
Schools serve as central gathering points within the community. Whether it is parents attending a school concert or play or everyone in town attending a basketball or football game, it is hard to imagine an institution that more regularly attracts large numbers of people for extended periods of time.
There is educational value in placing AEDs in schools. Primary-level teachers can make their pupils aware of what they are and how they are used. Secondary teachers can integrate CPR and AED instruction into the curriculum. The more familiar children are with AEDs, the greater the likelihood that they will use them in the event of a cardiac emergency.