tcr AED

An AED hangs on a wall at Traverse City Central High School.

TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Central High School will add another area of emergency preparedness to its annual fire, wind and lockdown drills.

Members of the school’s crisis management team will now participate in cardiac arrest drills to be prepared to act in the event of a heart-related emergency. Half the school’s coaches and physical education teachers and 10 percent of the school’s teachers, administrators and aides also were trained in using CPR and Automated External Defibrillators.

The heightened preparation comes about a year after a Central High student suffered a cardiac arrest in the building before school. The student survived because an AED was used, assistant principal Jay Larner said.

“I think this incident for us really, really resonated the importance of being prepared for this type of situation,” Larner said. “The circumstance is very unexpected. Generally you would expect this of somebody that’s older or participating in an athletic competition, but the fact of the matter is that cardiac health issues can happen with everyone.”

Central High only had two AEDs in the building when the incident occurred, and members of the student senate decided to raise money to buy two more.

Student senate member Niki Roxbury said if there was a heart-related incident in the school’s F Building it would take too long for someone to reach AEDs stored across campus.

“I never imagined a student in my own school going down into cardiac arrest,” student senate member Emily Decker said. “As soon as it was brought to our attention it was an eye-opener. This is something we need, and this is a good cause to work for.”

Their efforts earned the school one of the first MI HEARTSafe School designations from the Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Alliance for Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young and the American Heart Association.

Forty schools received the award, which recognizes schools that are prepared to respond to cardiac emergencies. Central High is the only school in Traverse City Area Public Schools to receive the distinction.

Larner said last year’s scare made people more aware of the possibility of a cardiac emergency, and students and employees will continue to go through CPR and AED training.

“I think about it, and I’ve never been involved in a fire that’s occurred at the school or a wind situation or a real lockdown situation, but I have been involved in a cardiac arrest situation,” Larner said.

An award ceremony is set for today at 9 a.m., at Central High, 1150 Milliken Drive, to celebrate the designation. The event is open to the public.

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