BANGOR, Maine -- The Bangor School Department has joined a growing list of Maine schools and other institutions that have added automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, to their health and safety arsenals.
The small, portable devices allow untrained rescuers to deliver life-saving shocks to cardiac arrest victims. A built-in computer assesses the patient's heart rhythm, judges whether defibrillation is needed, then administers the shock.
During a recent demonstration for school committee members, school nurse Julie Constantine-Ness showed how the units' audio prompts guide the user through the process.
The AEDs also come with "event recorder" computer chips for post-use audits, Ness said.
According to Superintendent Robert Ervin, the AEDs will be available for use not only for staff and students but also for people from the larger community who visit schools for sports and educational events, concerts and plays and myriad other gatherings.
He said the School Department so far has ordered 11 of the units, which cost $1,349 each. Seven will be placed in Bangor High School and two will be placed in each of the city's middle schools.
He said the units headed for Bangor High will be installed in permanent cases, which will be equipped with alarms. The others will be made available for use during school trips.
The school committee is adopting a policy for the use of the units. The policy underwent a first reading during a meeting last Wednesday night and will conduct the second reading, and likely vote to adopt it, during their next regular meeting, which will be held later this month.
According to a draft of the policy on AEDs, the school system will put together a team of first responders who will be trained to use the equipment and monitor its effectiveness.
The AEDs will not be used on anyone under the age of 8.