HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Through a $300,000 grant, health insurer HMSA is donating 320 automated external defibrillators ― or AEDs ― to 95 HHSAA public and private schools for their athletic programs.
“I’ve been at sporting events where things happen. Having AEDs around, having the trainers trained and the systems maintained really does make a huge difference,” HMSA president Michael Stollar said.
The health insurer has distributed the devices to schools for 13 years.
During that time defibrillators have helped save lives at several Hawaii high schools, including Pearl City High School.
A few years ago, a football player collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest after being hit in the chest. Athletic trainer Kim Imamoto used an AED to restore his heartbeat.
"It's one of those things that you never think is going to happen. You're glad you have all the training and all the equipment that you need to get through and help the kid survive," she said.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes across the nation.
AEDs deliver an electric shot to the heart through the chest.
"Every one minute that the brain goes without blood flow you lose 10 percent chance of survivability," said Bill Callahan, president of the CPR Institute of Indiana.
The company sells defibrillators to school districts in every state.
HMSA will use some of the $300,000 grant to train coaches and athletic trainers.
"These life-saving devices will be available for coaches, athletic trainers, school personnel at all high school sporting events and throughout the school day," HHSAA executive director Chris Chun said.
He estimates the devices have saved about two dozen lives at sporting events.
“In Hawaii our survival rate is not as high as we’d like it to be. Having this equipment more readily accessible will be huge,” said Reid Takano, president of the Hawaii Athletic Trainer Association.