WILMINGTON, MA — At last night’s Wilmington School Committee Meeting, the district’s School Wellness Advisory Council made a presentation on how the town earned the “Heart Safe Community” designation last fall.
According to the presentation, “Sudden cardiac arrest affects 350,000 Americans each year. The heart stops beating abruptly and the victim is unconscious with no pulse. The only treatment is early defibrillation by electric shock. With each minute that passes, the likelihood of survival decreases by 7-10%. To prove the best opportunity for survival, [CPR and defibrillation] must be put into motion within the first few minutes of the sudden cardiac arrest onset.”
Aware of these facts, Wilmington Public Schools and the Wilmington Board of Health have recently collaborated to become a “Heart Safe Community.”
According to its website, “Heart Safe Communities is a program designed to promote survival from sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. It is a general concept focused upon strengthening the ‘chain of survival’ as described by the American Heart Association; it recognizes and stimulates efforts by individual communities to improve their system for preventing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) from becoming irreversible death.”
Wilmington Public Schools Nurse Leader Doreen Crowe and Health/PE Liaison Laura Stinson, along with WHS students Christina Cox and Stephen O’Brien, discussed some of the steps the school system has taken to achieve the “Heart Safe Community” status, including:
- Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are in all Wilmington schools
- Several school nurses are CPR instructors
- CPR is offered twice a year to all WPS staff through the district’s professional development
- WHS physical education/health teacher Louis Nardo, a certified CPR instructor, successfully piloted the first student CPR class at Wilmington High. Additional CRP student classes were offered on Saturdays.
- With the help of a minigrant from the Community Health Network Area 15, the rest of the WHS physical education/health teachers became CPR instructors and more CPR mannequins/materials were purchased.
- Last year, CPR was added to Grade 10 Health Curriculum.
Through these actions from the school system, coupled with actions on the town-side spearhead by Town Health Director Shelley Newhouse, the Town of Wilmington was designated as a Heart Safe Community last fall.