Each year, more than 300 children and young adults in our state will die from a sudden heart attack and it usually happens without warning signs.
Last spring, 7 Investigator Heather Catallo showed you how schools in southeast Michigan could have been doing a lot more to keep kids safe. Now, more schools are stepping up.
Parents who have lost children to sudden cardiac arrest are thrilled that in the months since our stories first aired, more schools are earning a special designation from the state of Michigan. This week 105 new schools are going to be named “Heart Safe Schools.”
“It’s about the worst thing a parent can go thru. It left a big hole in our family,” said Randy Gillary.
Gillary’s daughter, Kimmie, was just 15 back in April of 2000 when she collapsed on the pool deck after a water polo match at Groves High School. Kimmie had sudden cardiac arrest, even though she’d never had any heart problems before.
Gillary has turned his despair into action by trying to get every school in Michigan to earn a designation from the State Health Department as a MI HEARTSafe School.
“As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing more important than making sure that you can save a student that has a sudden cardiac arrest in your school. That’s more important than did they get an A or B on a test,” said Gillary.
By law, High Schools in our state must have a written medical emergency response plan.
But the MI HEARTSafe Schools program takes it a step farther, requiring a team with current CPR and AED training to be available to respond to an emergency during school hours, and at organized after-school activities and sports.
MI HEARTSafe Schools must have Automated External Defibrillators that are ready to use within 3 minutes of any spot in the school and they also have to perform at least one cardiac emergency drill each year.
“Just having an AED doesn’t help. Knowing what to do and who can use it is important. As well as making sure that that response time is minimized,” Beaumont Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Nancy Cutler told the 7 Investigators in April.
As of last spring, there was only one school in Oakland County that had received the state designation.
Just 4 schools in Macomb County were considered MI HEARTSafe Schools, and there were none in Wayne County.
SE Michigan was far behind Genesee County and the schools on the West Side of the state.
But on Wednesday October 12, State Health Department officials will give 105 more schools the MI HEARTSafe school designation. That will bring the total of schools in Southeast Michigan from 5 to 33 (14 in Wayne, 10 in Macomb, and 9 in Oakland County). That brings the total of MI HEARTSafe Schools to 267.