AED saves young boy's life; district puts device in every school

Published: Monday, April 9 2012 2:05 p.m. MDT

The Nebo School District purchased AEDs for every school in the district. Several staff members at every school have been trained on the defibrillators. Secondary schools are equipped with more than one.

Alan Neves, Deseret News

SPANISH FORK — Logan Powell sounds like another first-grader who loves school, naming his favorite subjects — library, P.E., art.

But to his parents, it is not the Logan they used to know. 

"Logan is a different child,” said his mother, Laura Powell. “He's not the same he was before."

When Logan, 7, collapsed on the playground at East Meadows Elementary on Oct. 13, 2011, school staff immediately started CPR.

While waiting for an ambulance, Spanish Fork Police Lt. Brandon Anderson arrived with an automated external defibrillator. Logan’s heart was shocked back into a normal rhythm.

"It was the AED machine which saved his life,” said Powell.

Open heart surgery repaired Logan's previously undiagnosed heart defect. But it was later discovered that Logan suffered a traumatic brain injury because of a lack of oxygen in those minutes before the officer arrived with the AED.

"If (an AED) had been in the school at that time, we'd have had those few more minutes and then maybe we wouldn't be facing ADHD right now and sensory integration disorder,” said Powell, who praised the quick response of school workers.

The Nebo School District had approved buying AEDs for all of the schools in the district in August. But the units were still in the process of being purchased at the time Logan suffered his near-fatal heart episode.

Logan’s incident left no doubt in the minds of district officials that they made the right decision about purchasing the AEDs.

Now, the lifesaving devices will be available for students with known heart abnormalities, along with those students like Logan whose heart problems are unknown, according to Dave Gneiting, the risk manager with the Nebo School District.

"You don't know anything about those students until something happens," Gneiting said. "I think it's a very comforting thing for parents to know that we have them, I think it's great for our staff to know that they not only have the tool of CPR, but the tool of a defibrillator there to help."

Several staff members at every school have been trained on the defibrillators. Secondary schools are equipped with more than one AED, according to district spokeswoman Lana Hiskey.

"We're hoping we don't have to use them, but we're assured that they are in the schools and they can be used if needed," she said.

Logan is back to attending school for about three hours a day. His mom said it is still difficult for him, but she remains optimistic that with time, Logan will improve.

"We miss a lot of school for doctor appointments and therapy, but at the same time, going to school for Logan is like running a marathon. It's very exhausting for him mentally," she said.

While some schools in Utah have an AED, many still do not. Logan's parents hope other districts will follow Nebo's lead. They said that an AED will not only benefit students, but also teachers as well as parents or grandparents who attend school events.

"Every minute is so critical, so having that in the schools for somebody else and having the staff trained to use them is just wonderful,” said Laura Powell. “I'm really, really excited about it."

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com

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