Late last school year, a device the size of a large book helped save the life of a Western High School student who had suffered a heart attack.
At the time, such devices graced the walls of 27 schools in Guilford County Schools.
This year, they’re at 37 schools: all but two middle schools, all the traditional high schools and four elementary schools that have students considered high-risk for heart problems.
But that leaves 78 schools without the devices. And that is the concern for Linda Helle, a district employee.
Helle, an assistant in the athletics office, likens defibrillators to fire extinguishers. You hope you never to have to use them, but, she said, “You really need to have it there just in case.”
The defibrillators, which issue step-by-step voice commands to walk an operator through its use, cost between $1,500 and $3,000.
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In mid-June, a parent approached the Guilford County Board of Education to encourage that all schools have the same access to defibrillators. The board made no promises.
A month later the district installed defibrillators in the remaining middle schools. They were paid for with money leftover in various accounts that would have reverted to the general fund, Superintendent Terry Grier said.
Helle continues the quest for grants, donations and support in her mission to get a defibrillator in every building in the district. She has asked Phillips, a company that makes the defibrillators, to donate two to the district as part of its corporate giving plan.
She plans to ask parents to get involved at the district PTA meeting Sept. 18.
“We’re getting there,” she said. “Slow but sure, we’re getting there.”
Contact Jennifer Fernandez at 373-7064 or firstname.lastname@example.org