On Friday afternoon, the Portland Public Schools received the donation of a new AED, or automated external defibrillator. An AED is a medical device that according to the American Red Cross, “is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It's a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, medical device that can analyze the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.”
The AED was presented to PPS Athletic Director Kevin Veale and Operations Director Gary Bond by Kevin McGraw who is the Chairman of School Emergency Response Coalition, and Mark Fankhauser of the Grand Rapids Fire Department.
The School Emergency Response Coalition, or SERC, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and was founded in 2014. The organization recently received the WOOD TV Connect with Community Award as well as a grant from Wege Foundation in Grand Rapids.
SERC’s website lists the organization’s objectives as:
Partner with schools, businesses, EMS providers, and public safety agencies to provide CPR and AED training to school students, thereby providing new, life-long, potentially life-saving skills and increasing the population of CPR and AED trained individuals.
Provide AEDs to schools that cannot afford them and especially to those in rural areas to increase the chances of survival should a student, faculty member, or visitor go into sudden cardiac arrest.
Introduce students to the various career options available in public service and safety.
McGraw told the Beacon that AEDs provided by SERC have been used in three lifesaving situations. One at Ottawa Hills and two at Godfrey Lee. Their training has also helped a babysitter save a choking child in her care.
SERC’s Students United Prepared Emergency Responder (SUPER) CPR and AED Training Program aims to show students that school is like a second family. It promotes anti-bullying and ensures students are prepared to save someone with CPR or AED if needed. McGraw said, “There is no charge for schools or students.”
McGraw also said that the AED donated to PPS was made possibly largely due to funds raised by Chopper and Jonda Schrauben of the Wagon Wheel through a 20% night on November 12th.
Fankhauser said that SERC also partners high school students with mentors working in police, fire, and EMS. He said these mentorship opportunities help build “positive relationships with emergency services staff”
When asked about the current availability of AEDs in PPS buildings, Bond said that all building currently have one unit, and that the high school’s athletic trainer also has one in his possession events.
McGraw also mentioned that SERC would be holding a free training in Saranac in 2020. Saranac was home to 12-year-old Skylar Lasby who collapsed at a youth football practice during a non-contact drill this past summer. Skylar, a 7th grader at Saranac Jr./Sr. High School, was airlifted by helicopter to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital and tragically passed away later that night. It was later determined that Skylar died from sudden cardiac arrest caused by congenital heart disease.