Defibrillators placed in Tulsa area schools

Thursday, May 16th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Area schools Thursday received the first of 26 portable defibrillators. This is in response to a couple of seemingly healthy teenagers who died from cardiac arrest in Tulsa within a few months of each other.

News on Six medical reporter Tami Marler explains how those tragedies may help others live. People who knew 15-year-old Aaron Halford say he was destined for greatness, no one could have known that greatness would come after a sudden, tragic death during a Cascia Hall basketball game.

He was the second area athlete to die from heart complications in just a few months' span. James Coman MD: "We saw it as an outstanding opportunity to bring some good to two tragic events. Anytime children are involved in terrible healthcare situations like this, it's easy to galvanize public attention around it. And public awareness is really our main thrust here."

Dr Coman also helped to present defibrillators to Jenks High School, where we saw a demonstration of how one might be used. Jenks High School junior Justin Cowell was glad to take part. "It'll be a lot safer. If I ever at a sporting event, you know just collapse or something, I know that somebody will be there to kind of a last hope type thing, you know?"

While Oklahoma Heart Institute and Guidant Foundation were driven by the deaths of Shatiekia Johnson and Aaron Halford to start the $78,000 fund drive, Dr Coman says students are actually the least likely to need defibrillators. "Statistically, the crowd at a sporting event is much more likely to use and gain benefit from a defibrillator than the children participating in the sporting events."

95% of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest don't survive, but defibrillation within three minutes gives them a 74% chance to survive. Once all 26 defibrillators are delivered.

The American Red Cross will take over with training. To learn more about CPR and defibrillators, you can call the American Red Cross at 831-1195 to ask about upcoming classes.