After hearing from their insurance risk expert, the Beaumont Unified School Board of Trustees decided on May 12 not to install Automated External Defibrillators (AED) at school sites and the district office. They determined the additional liability of implementing a program wasn’t something they were willing to accept until the state mandates districts to install AEDs. The insurance expert told the board there had only been one AED qualifying incident several years back that may have benefited from an AED. She also stated three other districts in the inland empire had installed AEDs and they were responding to catastrophes. The board seemed comfortable in their decision when they learned all but "a few" of the school sites were estimated to be within five minutes of a local emergency agency’s response.
- Mr. Orozco stated "If we use the device and then it doesn't work for some odd reason, we can be held liable because we didn't maintain them properly" Why wouldn't you maintain them properly?
- Mr. Sanchez wanted to wait "until laws allow us to have such a product that eliminates any liability." The insurance expert didn't believe that was ever going to happen.
- Mrs. Kakish said she was aware of a district that had implemented a program in response to an incident and then had another incident where they couldn't save the student because it happened in an area "far from where the defibrilator was located" and stated "If we do implement a program it does not ...mean all indicents would be prevented." If all incidents can't be prevented, does this mean we shouldn't try to prevent any? Was this district sued for not saving this student? Have they re-considered their decision to install AEDs?
According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation’s web site, http://www.sca-aware.org, Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States and the average survival rate is about 7%. "Many victims can survive if they are treated quickly with a combination of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation." The SCA estimates for every minute eliminated in the time it takes to administer an AED, the rate of survival increases by %10.
I’d like to ask the board to read an educational supplement from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation titled You Can Save a Life at School and reconsider their decision. The publication asks:
Why wait for a tragedy? Implement an SCA program at your school now. You may just save a life – and better yet, by teaching students lifesaving skills, you’ll help build a generation of citizens who are ready, willing and able to help whenever SCA strikes.
The report the board received on AEDs was not presented to the public but trustees did acknowledge the report indicated if procedures are followed, they are exempt from civil liability. Their concern was that if everything wasn't done to comply with the legal requirements of implementing a program, the district would be exposed to a liability the state doesn't yet require districts to accept. It would be interesting to this parent to see if the report compared the liability of implementing a program that might not be perfect - and the liability of losing a student or staff member to a preventable catastrophe once the board had decided the local emergency response would be adequate. I would also like to know which schools were outside the 5 minute response time and what was the estimated response time for these schools.
I am asking the board - Please don’t wait for a tragedy to respond.