The ongoing effort by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), through the NFHS Foundation, to equip schools with Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) took a significant step forward last month with a shipment of more than 600 AEDs to high schools and state high school associations.
Similar to the initial distribution of more than 400 AEDs in February 2018, state associations were able to request AEDs for schools without the life-saving units. The most recent response resulted in the NFHS Foundation awarding more than 600 Phillips Onsite AEDs to schools and state association offices in 24 states.
The mission of the NFHS Foundation is to serve the interests of young people who participate in interscholastic sports and activities by funding research and program development in the areas of character education, leadership and sports risk minimization.
“No endeavor has been more important and required more resources than our AED project,” said Davis Whitfield, NFHS chief operating officer and president of the NFHS Foundation. “The AED project, in addition to other research opportunities, provides resources that help our states and their member schools develop policies and procedures to address the ongoing health and safety concerns in sports and activities, as well as saves lives should a catastrophic event occur during a practice or game.”
State associations and schools receiving AEDs also receive a rescue kit, alarmed wall cabinet and a carrying case to allow the AED to be transported beyond the school setting. Accompanying the AED is a two-inch adult pad and a pediatric pad for individuals weighing 55 pounds or less.
To help schools educate students and staff members on the AED, three video tutorials have been provided on an enclosed thumb drive regarding the AED’s ease of operation, maintenance, and battery and pad replacement.
“The distribution of AEDs to schools across our nation was something easy for me to support because of Hawaii’s first-hand experiences in saving lives with the use of an AED,” said Christopher Chun, chair of the NFHS Foundation Board of Directors and executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA). “I am pleased to have been a part of this mission the past four years to ensure that every NFHS member school has these life-saving devices. This will positively impact the whole community of education-based athletics – student-athletes, coaches, supporters and administrators alike.”
In addition to providing all member schools an AED, the NFHS Foundation is working to address other areas of concern. Whitfield said those include, but are not limited to, research being conducted in areas such as return-to-learn concussion protocol, guarding against overuse injuries in upper extremities, and protection against knee injuries by establishing a baseline protocol.
The plan for having an AED in every high school in the NFHS member state associations was among the goals developed in the 2016-2021 NFHS Strategic Plan. The continued advocacy for the AEDs was also included in the 2018-19 NFHS Board of Directors goals as part of promoting risk minimization. Through its funding, the NFHS Foundation has awarded in excess of $1 million in grants since its founding in 1996.