Life saving defibrillator’s ready for emergencies


Assistant Principal Angel Mensing is pictured alongside one of two defibrillator stations at Tecumseh High School. All public schools in Michigan are required by law to have the life-saving devices installed. Ten percent of school staff and 50 percent of athletic department personnel are trained on use of the defibrillators. Photo by Megan Linski.

David Pray, superintendent of Clinton Community Schools (CCS) was playing ice hockey in 2007 when, without warning, he went into sudden cardiac arrest. The ice rink had an automated external defibrillator (AED) onsite. A 17-year-old Ann Arbor Pioneer student playing with Pray, who had been taught how to use the AED through his athletic trainer, quickly jumped into action in order to save Pray’s life. The AED sent an electric shock to Pray’s heart to restore the organ to its natural rhythm, buying him time to be transported to the hospital.

Six months prior, a man had died in the same ice arena due to sudden cardiac arrest. The arena didn’t have an AED at the time in order to save the man’s life, therefore had one installed to prevent the same circumstance from occurring twice. “I’m very fortunate,” Pray said. “The AED ended up saving my life.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recognizes the first week of February as Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young (SCDY) Awareness Week. SCDY promotes ways to prevent death in youth as a result of cardiac arrest, as well as kicks off American Heart Month.

The goal of SCDY Awareness Week is to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, which can happen at any age. SCDY is when an apparently healthy person dies suddenly and unexpectedly from a cardiac related condition or unknown cause. Usually, a sudden cardiac event is the first sign of heart problems in a young person, and sometimes can be caused by inherited conditions. With screenings and care, as well as an evaluation of family health history, young people at risk for sudden cardiac arrest are more likely to be identified, and can implement strategies to prevent cardiac emergencies.

Pray insists that having a cardiac emergency response plan is crucial in schools. CCS has a CERT (Crisis Emergency Response Team) dedicated to taking action when sudden cardiac arrest situations happen, and an AED in every facility. “This happens more often than people think,” Pray said. “Without the necessary, lifesaving AED device and the proper training, I wouldn’t be around.”

In Michigan, sudden cardiac death kills more than 300 people under the age of 40 each year. Michigan schools are required by state law to have a written cardiac emergency response plan. A written cardiac emergency response plan includes recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest, calling 911, and initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an AED until EMS help arrives. The MI HEARTSafe Program was designed to prepare educational facilities for cardiac emergencies. MI HEARTSafe Schools are designated by the Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan Department of Education, American Heart Association and the Michigan Alliance for the Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young. The designation stays for three years, and there is no cost for schools to apply or receive the MI HEARTSafe designation. Schools receive the designation by having a written medical emergency response plan, a response team with current CPR/AED certification, current CPR/AED certification for at least 10 percent of staff and 50 percent of coaches and physical education staff, a sufficient number of properly maintained and inspected AEDs, performance of at least one cardiac emergency response drill per year, and pre-participating sports screening for all athletes using the form endorsed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA).

Since 2014, 162 schools have been recognized as MI HEARTSafe. Schools can apply to the program by visiting


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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