Defibrillator donated to high school

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Good for the heart: On hand when an automated external defibrillator was donated by NorthShore Health Centers to River Forest Junior/Senior High School in Hobart were Tricia Hall, marketing manager, NorthShore; Nilsa Cerrato, registered medical assistant, River Forest; Paula Thompson, registered nurse, River Forest; Len Schmidt, business development manager, NorthShore; Melinda Otero, RMA, River Forest; and Missy Harris, RMA, River Forest. | Supplied photo

A generous gesture has a Hobart school better prepped for medical emergencies.

NorthShore Health Centers has donated an automated external defibrillator and necessary supplies, costing a total of $2,500, to River Forest Junior/Senior High School in Hobart, bringing the number of these lifesaving devices in the River Forest Community School Corp. to five.

Len Schmidt, head of business development for NorthShore Health Centers, said Elizabeth Miranda, the previous school nurse at River Forest, approached the nonprofit health organization last spring about NorthShore purchasing the medical machine for the school.

He said River Forest was the first school corporation requesting a defibrillator of the health centers and it’s the first time NorthShore has donated one.

“Our CEO, Janice Wilson, approved NorthShore’s purchase of the defibrillator for River Forest schools when approached by the nurse,” Schmidt said.

He said the defibrillators can improve the chance of survival and recovery for a victim of heart attack, stroke and other emergencies. Schmidt explained that defibrillization is a process in which an electronic device analyzes a heart rhythm and prompts the user to deliver a shock when needed. Schmidt said heart organizations strongly encourage companies, schools and organizations to implement automated external defibrillator (AED) programs.

Current school nurse Paula Thompson said she isn’t aware of any cardiac arrests or other heart-related problems occurring at the school, but she added a sudden cardiac arrest can happen at any time and any place.

“You usually need them for athletic events and practices. But they could be needed at any time — such as if a child takes a hard enough hit to the chest with a ball,” Thompson said.

She said you want to be able to reach a defibrillator in three minutes; 90 seconds to get there and 90 seconds to get back.

“We’re very grateful to NorthShore Health Centers for its donation,” Thompson said.

CPR-certified staff

Thompson said the school corporation now has five defibrillators altogether: one in the high school, one in the junior high and one in each of the three elementary schools. She said the school corporation purchased the other four machines.

Thompson said the program is just being rolled out in the schools and she is still writing policy concerning their use.

She said she wants the policy completed before basketball season begins.

Thompson said the policy will state that a person must be CPR-certified in order to use the defibrillator on someone. She said all new teachers need to be CPR-certified under a new law.

Thompson said she would like to have teachers, coaches, cafeteria workers and janitors all CPR-certified and eligible to operate the machine.

Thompson said a parent or other spectator in the stands at one of the school sporting events could use it if they’re qualified, but she wasn’t sure if she’d extend the list of eligible operators to also include students.

Schmidt said NorthShore Health Centers works very hard to have a good working relationship with all the schools in the region.

“At present we have three teen clinics in three different high schools — in Portage, Lake Station and Merrillville. Students from other high schools can utilize our services at these clinics since we provide a nurse practitioner and staff at the school clinics,” Schmidt said.

He said students utilizing the clinics need to be accompanied by a parent.

NorthShore Health Centers is a nonprofit organization providing health care to uninsured and underinsured residents of Lake and Porter counties. It has four locations: Stacy McKay Health & Education Center and Scottsdale NorthShore Center, both in Portage, Lake Station NorthShore Center and Merrillville NorthShore Center. It also operates the Dr. Fernando Rivera Dental Center in Lake Station.

More information about NorthShore Health Centers is at