A concerned parent who was shocked by the regional education centre’s response when he wanted to donate an AED to his daughter’s school is thankful for an intervention by his MLA.
Alex Pudsey of North Alton said he is “thrilled” to receive official notice that practices are being relaxed so that he can donate an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) to New Minas Elementary.
In January, Pudsey said he had essentially been blocked by the Annapolis Valley Regional Education Centre in his efforts to procure an AED for the school. The practice in the Valley region had been to place an AED in a school only when a student or staff member has an identified medical need and their doctor has recommended it.
Kings South MLA Keith Irving said the situation didn’t make a lot of sense to him and he is happy that they were able to get it straightened out.
After reading an article about it, he reached out to Pudsey, the school and the regional education centre to gain a better understanding of the barriers. He also engaged the education minister, which led to a discussion by senior officials in the Department of Education.
“I reached back out to the regional education centre and got word that they were going to change their procedures to allow this to go forward in New Minas,” Irving said.
He feels that most Nova Scotians would support it from a common-sense perspective and the policy work can follow. Some of the issues the regional education centre was concerned with included maintenance and training costs but Irving said these matters can be worked out.
“There is a gap here in the Valley in terms of a policy. I’m sure that over time we can fill that gap but in the meantime, let’s take this generous offer by Mr. Pudsey and make that school just a little bit safer for everyone,” Irving said.
Irving is thankful to Pudsey for making the offer and for bringing the situation to the attention of the public.
Education Minister Zack Churchill said that when they learned that policy for donations existed in the Halifax Regional Education Centre, “it only made sense to move forward with accepting this donation and begin the work on a province wide policy with respect to AED’s in our schools.”
AED TO BE PURCHASED BY FALL
Pudsey said he plans to start raising funds to purchase the unit for the school, where his daughter currently attends Grade 4. A company in Kentville that wishes to remain anonymous has already donated $100, which Pudsey said is a good start.
“Without Keith driving this though, I don’t think it would have happened, just judging from the responses that I was getting as a parent,” Pudsey said. “Once he started pushing a little bit, it seemed to get things moving.”
Pudsey said it’s now a reality that the school will soon have an AED as an extra measure of protection for the student population and those who use the school. It’s often the case that by the time someone realizes that an AED is needed, it’s too late.
“The response time is huge,” Pudsey said. “My impression is that every second or minute matters. Having one right on site is a big thing.”
Pudsey plans to purchase a defibrillator for the school by the fall. The unit he is looking at is called the LifePak CR Plus, which is fully automatic. It costs $1,589 for the AED plus $279 for the cabinet.
Pudsey said that Roger Owen, the owner of Safety Response First Aid Training, is willing to donate his time to train people at New Minas Elementary to use the AED once it’s in place. AVREC communications and FOIPOP officer Kristen Loyst said via email that “this is not specific to New Minas Elementary School.” Other schools under the jurisdiction of the AVRCE could also now accept the gift of an AED.
Pudsey said this is really good news. He said it would be even better if school communities didn’t have to fundraise to get the units but “they’re not there yet.”
DID YOU KNOW?
- According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, an AED is a small, portable and easy-to-use device that assesses the heart of a person in cardiac arrest for a shockable rhythm.
- If such a rhythm is detected, the provider is instructed to press a button to deliver a shock or a series of shocks to the victim’s heart, stopping the heart to allow it to return to a normal rhythm.
- If no shockable rhythm is detected, no shock can be given and the provider must perform CPR until professional help arrives.
- combined with CPR, the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) may increase the likelihood of saving a person’s life by 75 per cent or more over CPR alone.