St. James schooled on AEDs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 13, 2010

By David Vitrano


LUTCHER – St. James School Nurse Sharon Louque spoke to the school board Tuesday about the risks and benefits of acquiring Automated External Defibrillators at the parish’s educational facilities.

“I’m about saving lives in a reasonable and legal way,” she said as she introduced the topic to the board members.

She said a decision to obtain the devices should not be based on what other school districts are doing nor should it be based on whether some of the devices might be acquired free of charge. On that second point, she noted that if grants or other funding could be secured, it would only be enough for one or two of the devices.

“It’s either all or nothing with me as a nurse,” she said.

She went on to detail the limited use of the devices. While they certainly serve a purpose, they are only good for treating a specific type of heart condition, one that generally arises because of an undetected “electrical” defect that results in an irregular heartbeat.

She also noted the cost of not only obtaining but maintaining and training personnel to use the devices as well. In locations where AEDs are present, she said, certified personnel must also be present at all times.

“If your public thinks you have an AED, they are going to expect you to use it,” said Louque.

This fact, she said, would leave the district open to unnecessary liability issues if it were to acquire the AEDs.

Ultimately, she recommended the district train all employees in CPR, a measure she thought would be more effective both in terms of cost and actual life-saving potential.

Also Tuesday, Superintendent Alonzo Luce presented the board with some of the mid-year budget cuts handed down by the Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Office that will affect the district.

The $128,000 in funds for the Ensuring Literacy For All program, which helped in the purchase of services, materials and supplies for the program, will be cut completely. Additionally, another $11,000 will be cut from another source of funding for the program.

The Governor’s Office also decreed that $27,000 will be cut from funding for the Model Early Childhood funds and $653 will be cut from mini-grants.

Luce’s report stated that while the central office was able to reduce some of the material costs, there are no plans to reduce any personnel associated with these programs. It also noted that the majority of the cuts will be absorbed by the general fund.

Finally, Aleshia Smith, who heads the cosmetology program at the parish’s two high schools, informed the board of her intention to take some of her students to a cosmetology exposition in Atlanta in February.

“The Cosmetology Department is flourishing,” she said, noting her students had recently visited Riverlands Community Care Center to provide services for the clients there.

Students will have to meet academic and behavioral standards to participate in the field trip and will be required to keep a journal during the excursion.

Said Smith, “This is an opportunity for them to step out.”

Following her presentation, the board agreed to donate $1,000 to the program to help defer the cost of attending the exposition.