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School Adds Additional Life-Saving Devices Following 2009 Emergency

The school recently installed two extra AEDs—electronic devices that assist patients suffering from life-threatening heart conditions.

Two years after a student survived a cardiac arrest on campus,  is becoming one of the best-equipped places in town to handle similar medical emergencies.

Last month, the school's PTSA awarded a grant of approximately $1,900 so the school could purchase a second Automated External Defibrillator—the same medical device that helped save 13-year-old Levi Pocza's life when he suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed during PE class in 2009. 

Like most secondary schools in the Lake Washington School District, Redmond Junior High already had one district-provided AED, which was used during the 2009 incident and is currently located just inside the school's main entrance. But Redmond Police Officer Matt Hurley, who serves as the school's resource officer, thought it would be prudent for another defibrillator to be installed near the gym and outside play fields.

Having an extra AED in the gym is benefits both adults and children, Hurley said, especially considering all the athletic activities, music performances and church services that take place in the facility. After school hours, he added, the doors to the school's main hallway are locked, making it especially difficult to access the other defibrillator.

"So you're not talking just for kids—these machines are there for everybody," he said.

Hurley, who has a child in ninth grade at Redmond Junior High, made a grant proposal to the school's PTSA. Elizabeth Hansford, PTSA co-president and mother of a ninth-grade Redmond Junior High student, said the the group's members immediately agreed with the suggestion and voted to support the project, even though it was the most expensive proposal they have ever approved.

After Hurley's proposal was approved, Principal Kelly Clapp decided to purchase a third AED for the school using its building budget. That device is located on the second floor on the opposite end of the building as the one in the gym.

As a parent, Hansford said, it's reassuring to know AEDs are located within seconds of anywhere your child might be during the school day.

"It makes me feel better that they're here and that there are people here who are trained to use them," she said.

The main purpose of AEDs is to generate an electric shock that stops the heart's arrhythmia and enables those who are performing CPR compressions to establish a regular heart beat rhythm in the patient.

According to Hurley, every teacher who also coaches a sport is trained in how to use the device, along with the school's athletic director. He is working on getting more teachers familiar with the defibrillator and plans to host a more formal class early next year.

All three of the AEDs at Redmond Junior High were manufactured by , a Redmond-based company that has been a worldwide leader in the development of defibrillator technology. The devices currently sell for about $2,400 retail, but Physio-Control sold them to the school for a reduced price of $1,900 and also provided storage boxes, shipping, and mounting and training materials free of charge.

Even though the extra AEDs might never get used, Hurley said everyone agreed the cost of purchasing them was well worth it.

"If it does come out of the box, we're all going to be happy that we spent the two grand to do it," he said.

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