The Houston school board voted unanimously last week to equip schools with more defibrillators, after four Houston-area students died this fall in connection with physical activity.
The 210,000-student district will spend nearly $283,000 to buy 225 automatic external defibrillators and train 720 district employees on how to use them. The devices use an electric shock to re-establish heart rhythm in a person in cardiac distress. As part of the new policy, coaches will be required to take the portable devices to all athletic practices and games.
Every one of the district’s comprehensive high schools will have five defibrillators, and all smaller high schools and middle schools will have three defibrillators each. Every elementary school will have one defibrillator, and the devices also will be located at the district’s headquarters, its facilities management complex, and at transportation facilities.
The district already had 300 defibrillators that were donated in August by the Texas Arrhythmia Institute, a nonprofit organization in Houston that works to prevent sudden cardiac death.
A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2006 edition of Education Week