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A community effort has resulted in the installation of a publicly accessible AED at Moanataiari School. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Life-saving addition to school

A potentially life-saving device has been installed at Moanataiari School in Thames, thanks to contributions from across the community. 

The new AED (automated external defibrillator) was installed at the beginning of March, and principal David Brock said it would provide peace of mind not only for the staff and students, but for the wider community as well. 

“It makes our school a safer environment,” he said. 

“We’ve got one little girl who is a heart student here, [and] you don’t always know when you’re going to have to access something like that. We hope never, but it’s just another little safety step for us.”

The teachers’ annual first aid training was fresh in teacher aide Donna Weir’s mind when she came across AED charity Embracing Hearts. Donna, who’s own child also has a heart condition, asked the school to install one. 

Pretty quickly, administrator Julie White solicited multiple offers of support from local organisations. 

The medical device itself, worth an estimated $4000, was donated by Exceed – We Fix Windows and Doors, through Heart Box. 

“Pre-Covid, Exceed launched the Heart Box programme,” Exceed’s Thames franchise owner Ron Houben said. 

“And my paramedic son worked in this area…  I’ve probably heard about 1000 stories about cardiac arrest incidents from him, so I’m quite passionate about it.” 

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The alarmed lockbox required to house the device was provided by Police, Destination Coromandel, and Gateway Glass. 

The Moanataiari Residents Association, Hato Hone St John, and the entire school community also got involved. 

“Once they were aware of what we were trying to do it was just amazing. Everyone was really supportive,” David said.  

“It probably took about a four-week period from start to finish – we were really quite thrilled.” 

Jon Roath from St John was on hand to teach the staff how to use the device. He said it was a very user-friendly device which would issue verbal instructions on activation. 

“They’re primarily used in the event of a cardiac arrest, which is when someone’s heart stops,” Jon said. 

“The point of having them strategically around the community is that the evidence shows that early intervention through good CPR and a good first shock will dramatically increase the life expectancy of that patient. After four minutes, the brain starts to die of a lack of oxygen. If they can get those two things going before then the outcome and the survival rate is massively increased.”

DETAILS: AED is located at Moanataiari School at the Kuranui Street entrance. Call 111 to access the device. Other AED locations can be found on the GoodSAM phone app.