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NFL incident spurs action by schools
Swallows looks to add more AEDs
Grant Swallows new mug.jpg
Grant Swallows

Director of Schools Grant Swallows addressed the Warren County School Board on Monday about the district’s plans to combat the growing concern for athletes and students after the shocking collapse of NFL safety Damar Hamlin.

Swallows told the Board, “I’ve gotten a lot of questions, and I felt like you might have been getting those as well related to what we saw with the Buffalo Bills, the accident on the field with the young man Damar Hamlin. It’s obviously a tragedy that was averted by the quick action of the medical personnel on the field.”

A year ago, the School Board received the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) grant which gave the school system $2 million. Swallows and director of health services Sonya Walker have been working together on how to purchase additional automated external defibrillators (AED) to put in schools. Swallows said, “We have been fortunate to have this ELC Grant, you’ve heard me talk about that with the COVID testing center, but one of the things Sonya and I have discussed with that ELC Grant is to provide additional AED units for our school district.”

He continued, “We currently have, I believe, 15 in our district. We have one in every school including this building. Warren County High School, Warren County Middle School and West Elementary have two. All staff are trained every year on how to use an AED.”

Warren County Schools is also in need after the recent departure of athletic trainer Tim McIntosh in November. Swallows said, “We are fortunate again that we have the community support that we have; Zach Sutton has been covering all of our events.” Warren Co. is actively searching for a new athletic trainer.

Swallows told the Board, “We are looking to purchase 13 additional AEDs and are deciding where those are best strategically placed. One of the things I want to bring up at this point is the fact that we have sporting events where the AED may be placed in the building, and they would have to go back into the building. Those are precious seconds that we can’t afford at this point, so we’re looking to be able to add.

“Put one in the baseball field house, in the locker rooms, but more importantly, we’re also trying to put some in the hands of coaches so that they can check those out and take those to the events that need to be right there in a dugout or on the field or wherever it is. Again they’re trained to do that. We are all trained to do that.”

Having additional AEDs could dramatically increase the chance of survival if a student, athlete, coach, official or patron were to suffer from the same medical condition as Hamlin. “It’s invaluable to have those resources,” Swallows added, “I hate that we haven’t done it before now. But I think it was just like we said, it’s a wakeup call for a lot of people, so we are going to use those federal funds to increase our footprint with those AEDs. Obviously our coaches are trained with CPR; our safety teams are trained with CPR; our nurses are always there.”

The Board members expressed their appreciation for this decision. Swallows said, “We are aware of those situations, we are trying to make sure we are ready and, again, we are very fortunate that we have some public funding or federal funding available to make these purchases.”