Lee County Schools Designated as Heart-Safe by Golisano Children’s Hospital

Lee County Schools Designated as Heart-Safe by Golisano Children’s Hospital
Posted on 06/04/2021
Lee County Schools Designated as Heart-Safe by Golisano Children’s Hospital

When 17-year-old Mariner High School student Derrick Purdy ran up and down the basketball court at a tournament in Estero last October, his mom and brother watched from the bleachers.

After playing the entire first quarter, he subbed out for a quick break. Suddenly, he couldn’t sit up on the bench and began to lean on his teammates. Derrick’s mom rushed to the court as her son began to have a seizure. Then, he stopped breathing. While his mother began CPR, other parents jumped into action and found an automated external defibrillator (AED), which they used on him, saving his life.

“My child's heart stopped that day on the court — he could have died in my arms,” said Derrick’s mom, Kim Purdy. “Derrick is alive thanks to heroes trained in CPR and the use of an AED.”

An AED allows lifesaving measures to be performed on someone in cardiac distress by anyone, regardless of medical training. When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, the window to save a life becomes smaller with each passing minute, and knowledge and access to an AED can be critical in saving a child’s life.

All high schools in Lee County have had AEDs in place since 2012. To provide the remaining middle and elementary schools with AEDs and specialized training, Golisano Children’s Hospital has partnered with Project ADAM, a non-profit organization that’s focused on prevention training and education to ensure schools and communities are equipped and trained in prevention of sudden cardiac death. Through this partnership, Golisano has officially awarded 89 Lee County School District schools and the district with a Heart Safe School designation. The designation means that each school now has an AED on-site that’s accessible from anywhere in the school within 2-3 minutes, a designated cardiac emergency response team at each school and a written Cardiac Emergency Response Plan that is reviewed annually.

“We are so proud to be able to award all Lee County schools with this important designation,” said Julie Noble, child advocate and Project ADAM coordinator with Golisano Children’s Hospital. “To be able to have access to an AED in a cardiac emergency could save a life.”

“Having AED’s in all Lee County Schools gives us the ability to respond to a cardiac emergency immediately and offer lifesaving interventions in a timely manner” said Beth Wipf, Health Services Coordinator the School District of Lee County. “Thank you to Golisano Children’s Hospital and Lee Health for their continued partnership to help us keep our students, staff and guests healthy and safe.”

Thanks to the life-saving equipment that was already in place at Mariner High School, Derrick, who is now 18 years-old, was able to stand alongside his parents at that same school at the official designation ceremony on June 1st, the first day of National CPR and AED Awareness Week.

“To be able to stand here with my son on this day is a miracle,” said Kim Purdy. “An AED saved his life. I hope one never has to be used at any of these schools, but if it does, I’m glad they’re here. I’m so grateful my son’s school had one when he needed it. It saved his life.”

The AEDs were funded by the Lee Health Foundation through the Little Red Wagon Fund for Golisano Children’s Hospital.