Newton HS junior works to make AEDs more available in district

With cardiac arrest, time, training and equipment matter.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 5:23 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEWTON, Kan. (KWCH) - With cardiac arrest, time, training and equipment matter. It’s what led to a New High School junior’s effort to make automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, more available in the district. The devices received national attention after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati and had his heartbeat restored with an AED.

As the head athletic trainer for Newton Schools, Katrina Steiner is trained for an emergency situation in which someone’s heart stops. She trains others on how to get a pulse back, with CPR and an AED.

“AEDs are life-saving machines. Very easy to use,” she said.

Steiner has an AED close at hand whenever she’s working a sporting event.

“Anybody can have a cardiac arrest, it doesn’t have to be an older person or a younger person,” she said. “Anyone can have a cardiac arrest, and if you have the AED, it will save their life.”

The issue in the Newton school district is that there are only four of the devices. That’s where Newton High School junior Abby Koontz came in. For the daughter of a local doctor who is also the high school’s team physician, it’s an especially matter to address.

“We don’t want to have a tragic event happen in our community, so we thought it was best to start a fundraiser for AED,” Koontz said.

Koontz, the president of her school’s Health Occupations for Students of America Club, talked with high school leaders about the issue last fall. She set a fundraising goal of $6,000. The effort raised about $10,000.

“We reached out to different doctors and businesses in the community and asked if they would be willing to support this cause,” she said.

With the fundraising Koontz completed, the AED count in the Newton school district will jump from four to 10.

“It will be accessible to everyone, to spectators, players, coaches if anything were to happen,” she said. “Hopefully, it will be there for everyone to access, and we can save someone’s life,” she said.

It also helps to increase the visibility of the life-saving device.

“If we teach more people how to use CPR, that’s even better, because CPR, along with an AED goes a long way,” Steiner said.

All coaches at Newton Schools are trained in CPR and using an AED.