Cave Creek schools get defibrillators from Scottsdale Healthcare

SCOTTSDALE – Cave Creek schools are among the first recipients of life-saving Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) from Scottsdale Healthcare. The nonprofit Scottsdale-based hospitals’ goal is to place an AED on the campus of every public and private school in the Northeast Valley, including elementary, middle and high schools.

Having AEDs in schools could save the lives of students, as well as school staff members, parents, volunteers and people of all ages attending everything from band concerts to school plays.

“We’re thrilled to receive these defibrillators,” said Gina Durbin, director of student support services for the Cave Creek School District. “We have so many things going on at our schools and on our fields. The AEDs will help us provide a safe campus for our students and community. They could mean the difference between life and death.”

AED presentationThe program also will provide AEDs for the athletic departments of middle schools and high schools. A two-year equipment maintenance program and training for appropriate personnel, such as school nurses and coaches, also will be provided.

“Schools are increasingly used for more than just education. They can be the meeting place for community groups and the location for a variety of events and gatherings,” said Jan Miller, vice president of major gifts at Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation.

After being approached by Dr. Thomas Mattioni about creating an AED program in schools, the Foundation raised money to purchase 26 defibrillators, thanks to the generous support of St. Jude Medical Foundation, Guidant Foundation and Cardiac Science. According to Jan, fund-raising efforts are continuing.

Scottsdale Healthcare’s Community Health Services researched how many defibrillators are needed and is working to place them in schools. Community Health Educator Alisa Hawthorne said 26 AEDs are needed in the Cave Creek, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Fountain Hills school districts. Together, the four school districts serve more than 67,800 children.

Dr. Mattioni, who serves as medical director for the AED program, noted that while cardiac arrests are relatively rare in children, there are well-known heart conditions that predispose some children to sudden cardiac death. These conditions frequently produce no warning symptoms.

“It hits out of the blue and parents are devastated that the child they thought was healthy one day is gone the next. In those awful cases, if a defibrillator was available and used, it could make all the difference in the world,” said Dr. Mattioni.

Photo: As part of a program launched by Scottsdale Healthcare, a life-saving AED is presented to Cactus Shadows High School. Left to right are: Jon Rittenburg, Cardiac Science sales manager; Alisa Hawthorne, Scottsdale Healthcare community health educator; Gina Durbin, Cave Creek USD Director of Student Support Services; Thomas Mattioni, MD, Scottsdale Healthcare medical director of Electrophysiology and Arrhythmia Services; and Dale Yavitt, Scottsdale Healthcare community health educator.
Courtesy Photo