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Three new automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, were delivered recently to each of Volusia County’s 10 public high schools as part of an expanded program funded by AdventHealth to keep student-athletes safe during athletic practices and games.

The new AEDs were purchased by the school district with $46,000 of this year’s contribution to Volusia County Schools (VCS) from AdventHealth, the official “champion” of VCS, district officials said. This is the third year of the five-year, $2 million partnership built on three pillars: athlete health and safety; health academies and health careers; and addressing chronic absenteeism.

“We are very thankful for our partnerships with AdventHealth. The funding has allowed Volusia County Schools to be ahead of neighboring districts when it comes to purchasing a variety of equipment, such as the AEDs, to keep student athletes safe,” Kelly Amy, the district’s manager of strategic partnerships, told The Beacon.

With the funding from AdventHealth, for athlete health and safety the school district purchased ImPACT Concussion Testing for high-school athletes; purchased heat-illness treatment equipment for all high-school athletic trainers; purchased three AEDs per high school; purchased weather sentries for all high schools to help coaches, athletic directors and athletic trainers stay on top of weather-related dangers; and piloted Healthy Roster software for athletic trainers to monitor and streamline the care of student-athletes.

SAFER IN PIERSON VCS Athletics Specialist Lary Beal, second from right, and VCS manager of strategic partnerships Kelly Amy, right, present AEDs to Taylor Middle-High School Principal Kathy Gibbons, left, Athletic Director Mark Lebeda, second from left, and Athletic Trainer Emily Merriman, middle.

Health academy and health science program support included $10,000 per year for academies and $5,000 per year for programs, funding that goes directly to the schools to purchase equipment and instructional resources for both established and new health science programs; ongoing support for teacher planning days with AdventHealth leaders; and collaborating to develop and expand job shadowing, internships and career opportunities.

PROTECTING THE WOLVES — VCS Athletics Specialist Lary Beal, right, presents AEDs to Deltona High School Athletic Director Gary Meadows, left.

To help combat chronic absenteeism, the district deployed AdventHealth’s eCare telemedicine to assist families who have sick children, especially in the 36 schools having the highest rate of absenteeism; and offering free eCare telemedicine to all schools to assist with needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, with office visits open to all schools using a VCS-specific code.

“The AED is a lifesaver. When someone goes down with a cardiac issue, it will analyze the heart. It will walk the individual through the steps of CPR and shock as needed. So this is very important,” said Erik Nason of AdventHealth Sports Medicine in a prepared news release. “AdventHealth is so excited to be able to provide these AEDs to these 10 high schools here in Volusia County Schools.”

All VCS high schools already had at least one AED on campus, according to the release. But the district committed to increasing access to AEDs, which are used to help people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. Also, a new state law now requires coaches to have access to an AED at every athletic practice and game, and also requires ongoing training. Coaches are currently required to have CPR training and will receive additional training specifically for the AEDs.

PANTHERS ARE SAFER VCS Athletics Specialist Lary Beal, right, presents AEDs to Pine Ridge High School Athletic Director John New.

Two of the new AEDs for each high school will be portable for use on the fields and courts, while one will be mounted on the wall of the gymnasium.

“Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death — the No. 1 cause of death — for student athletes within sporting events,” Jeff Perlow, manager of ZOLL Medical, said in the news release. “That’s why they decided to really bolster this program.”

In addition to having the AEDs for emergency use, students in the high schools’ health academies and health science programs will be able to use them for lessons.

See VCS’s video about the new AEDs below.

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