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Dothan City Schools are named Heart Safe Schools

Dothan City Schools Recognized for Safety Measures

DOTHAN (Jan. 18, 2023) — All 18 schools in the Dothan City school district were named Heart Safe Schools Tuesday by Alabama LifeStart, a school safety program at Children’s of Alabama.

The district was recognized for incorporating automated external defibrillator (AED) emergency drills and other safety measures into its school curriculums. The district’s schools are the state’s newest Heart Safe Schools, joining others around the state. John Stone, Alabama LifeStart director and manager of community action at Children’s of Alabama, presented the designation to lead school nurse, Jacquelyn Pearce, Tuesday afternoon before the Dothan City School Board.

Dr. Austin Kane, a cardiologist and medical director of Alabama LifeStart, said the designation specifically recognizes how the district created plans to educate students and staff on the importance of AEDs.

“Congratulations to Dothan City Schools and all 18 schools on being named a Heart Safe District,” Kane said. “While rare, sudden cardiac death is a devastating event not only for a family but an entire community. Many young people who die suddenly have been diagnosed with heart disease, but others have no prior diagnosis or symptoms. The use of an AED significantly increases a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest. By having cardiac emergency response plans and practicing drills, the Dothan City School District has taken important steps to prepare for cardiac arrest and protect their students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

The district’s 18 school nurses are educating the faculty, staff and students on properly using AEDs if they witness a cardiac emergency in a school or the community. With the addition of AEDs, AED trainer devices and AED training, staff at each school will have the knowledge, ability and resources to respond efficiently and help save lives.

Nationwide, thousands of school-age children die from sudden cardiac arrest each year, and only 5-10% survive without immediate treatment. An AED can increase the survival rate to 50%. A 2007 survey conducted with the Alabama State Department of Education identified 71 public high schools and 107 public middle schools that had no AEDs on campus. Dr. Yung Lau and Barbara Mostella of UAB created Alabama LifeStart to address this need. Hundreds of public, middle, junior and senior high schools in the state are now equipped with at least one AED. In the last five years, at least three students’ lives have been saved thanks to the quick response of school personnel who had been provided with AED equipment and AED training support from Alabama LifeStart.

About Children's of Alabama

Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient, outpatient and primary care throughout Central Alabama. Ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves patients from every county in Alabama and nearly every state. Children’s is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the teaching hospital for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. The medical staff consists of UAB faculty and Children’s full-time physicians, as well as private practicing community physicians.