It’s a familiar scene to anyone who’s watched television hospital dramas – a patient comes in unresponsive, and one of the medical team grabs two paddles connected to a piece of electronic equipment by coiled cords – the defibrillator. The box powers up, the medic yells, “Clear!” and puts the paddles to the patient’s chest to deliver a jolt of electricity in the hope of “jump-starting” the patient’s heart. Often it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But what was once a mainstay of hospital emergency departments can now be found in workplaces, shopping centers and other public places, packaged in a compact, easy to use design called an automatic external defibrillator (AED).

Adaveion Jackson is fortunate for that. The 15-year-old Dale County High School football player collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest at practice recently, and athletics officials had an AED nearby. After CPR failed to bring the youngster around, the AED was used. Jackson’s vital signs recovered and he was taken to a hospital, where he was later fitted with a pacemaker to address a previously undiagnosed condition.

We’re grateful for the happy ending, and all the credit goes to the quick-thinking coaches and staff on hand that day. And we’re also encouraged that the incident has prompted at least one local school system to review access to AED technology on its own campus. Houston County Schools determined that the devices on hand were more than a decade old, and needed replacement, and that more devices on hand would be appropriate.

Every school system should equip its facilities with AEDs, perhaps through a lease agreement that would ensure the schools have up-to-date equipment. Ideally, they’ll draw dust from lack of use. However, if the need arises from a health crisis with a student, faculty member, staff, or visitor, the availability will far outweigh whatever the initiative costs.

Just ask anyone who knows and loves Adaveion Jackson.

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