London

School inaction prompts dads into defibrillator fundraiser

The Dad Club of London is hoping to raise $24,000 to put a defibrillator in every London high school by the fall.

Only 3 of London's 12 high schools have defibrillators, a much lower number than other regions

The TVDSB wants to have a defibrillator in every school. (Kate Dubinski/ CBC News)

Until a few months ago, the Thames Valley District School Board wouldn't even entertain the idea of having defibrillators in its schools. 

That tide has turned, thanks in part to a campaign by a trustee, and the school board is trying to put the life-saving devices in each of its schools. 

Enter Dad Club London, which is trying to raise $24,000 to buy a defibrillator for every high school in the city by the fall.

 

"It's a little piece of equipment that can save a life, so it just makes a lot of sense to have them in schools," said Tyler McTaggart, a vice-president in the club, which brings together dads for socializing with and without kids. 

Defibrillators, also known as automated external defibrillators or AEDs, deliver an electric current to the heart when someone is suffering a heart attack. When administered properly and shortly after a cardiac arrest, they can dramatically increase the chances of survival. 

Right now one-third of the TVDSB's 27 high schools have defibrillators, but only three – out of 12 – in London, said trustee Jake Skinner, who has been pushing to put the devices in all schools. 

School board to pay for installation, training

He originally wanted the school board to pay for the defibrillators, but other trustees balked. Instead, the board allocated $20,000 to pay for ongoing maintenance of the defibrillators. 

"Trustees wanted the community to be involved, and now they're involved," Skinner said. 

"We're ready. There's been a 180 degree turn in terms of how we're approaching (defibrillators). We're ready to install it, provide the training, and maintain it." 

In four days, the Dad Club has raised $5,000, said McTaggart. 

"Jake Skinner is one of our members and this was a pretty easy fundraising effort to say 'yes' to," he said. 

Thames Valley lagging behind other boards

Skinner said he compared the TVDSB to other similar school boards and was surprised at what he found. 

"I looked at 72 different school boards and 70 percent have them in all their schools. We are at the low end," Skinner said. 

"Then I looked at 12 boards that were very similar to ours, and we were the only ones that didn't have AEDs in all of our schools. We were out of step."

Twelve schools in the Thames Valley District School Board currently have defibrillators. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

Dad Club members have started organizing bottle drives, used-item sales and promotions at their businesses to raise cash, McTaggart said. 

All of the money raised will be directly donated to the school board to purchase defibrillators for London schools. 

In Elgin and Oxford county schools have defibrillators in their high schools. In Middlesex County, one of five schools has a defibrillator. 

In London, only seven of 130 elementary schools have defibrillators. 

To donate: 

  • Online donations can be made at dadclublondon.com
  • In-person donations can be made at any Royal Bank Branch (Dad Club London/00844-1005263)
  • Source For Sports, 406 Wharncliffe Rd. South
  • Donaldson Heathing and A/C, 1184 Frances St.
  • Palasad South, 141 Pine Valley Blvd. 

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