Santa Clara County has become the first in the state to equip each of its public schools with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to combat sudden heart attacks among young people, the county reported Wednesday.
The nonprofit Racing Hearts began installing the equipment as a pilot program in 2014, which has since grown to 810 AEDs spread among elementary, middle and high schools in the county. The organization has been active in adding AEDs throughout Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and the rest of the county.
County officials said fewer than 10 percent of local public schools had access to the equipment four years ago.
"It's a milestone moment for the people in our county," County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said in a news release. "We had a goal of equipping all schools and we did it."
The AED models are designed for easy usage to defibrillate a heart attack victim before an ambulance arrives.
More than 7,000 young people, mainly between the ages of 10 to 19, die each year from sudden heart attacks, according to county officials, who said heart attacks can strike people of any age or fitness level.
Victims survive about 5 to 8 percent of the time when receiving only CPR, but 80 percent survive through the use of AEDs, county officials said.
"I am so proud that Santa Clara County is the first county in the state to have this necessary life-saving equipment on each of its campuses," County Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan said in a news release.
The equipment was funded through $1 million in matching funds from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors with local school districts, nonprofits, foundations and individuals, according to the county.