Defibrillators will be in schools
• J.M. Huber donations will help put an automated external defibrillator in every Jefferson County school
By Ben Roberts
Eight to ten minutes is, literally, the deadline.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), if a victim of cardiac arrest is not defibrillated within that span of time, they have virtually no chance of survival.
Most cardiac arrest victims are in ventricular fibrillation, a condition where the heart beats erratically, failing to pump blood. The heart must be defibrillated by electrically shocking the muscle back into a normal rhythm.
The AHA says if this is done within five minutes, the victim has a 50-percent chance of survival.
That's a sobering fact considering the size of Jefferson County and its limited number of ambulances that must cover that expanse.
Within the next few months, however, students and personnel of the Jefferson County School System will have their odds of surviving a cardiac arrest greatly increased. Thanks to donations made by J.M. Huber last spring and the AHA last month, every Jefferson County school will soon have its own automated external defibrillator (AED). Actually, the system will have a total of eight machines, with the remaining two most likely being housed or carried to athletic events.
Jefferson County High School softball coach Anna Lush said she was first contacted by Huber about donating the machines last year. Lush says the corporation uses the AEDs in their plants and mills.
After she received the first two machines, Lush contacted the AHA to see if there was a grant that might purchase any more. After some persistent finagling on her part, the AHA provided the funds to purchase six additional AEDs.
The units retail for around $3,000 each, but state contracts allow school systems to purchase AEDs for around half that.
Superintendent Carl Bethune acknowledged that without the nearly $12,000 donation from the two groups, the board would not have been able to purchase the machines on their own.
"Without these donations and the partnerships with these groups, it would have been very difficult to have one of these machines in each school," Bethune said. "We would most likely just have one or two in the entire system."
Lush explained that the AEDs are completely self-contained and easy to use, including pictures demonstrating how to use the unit should someone have difficulty reading.
There is also no risk of further injuring someone by incorrectly using an AED on a victim. The fully-automatic units will measure the rhythm of the heart themselves once attached and only shock a victim if necessary. Lush explained that the units will determine if a victim has a "shockable" heart rhythm. For example, if a victim had no pulse whatsoever, the unit would advise CPR first in an attempt to get a heart rhythm.
She said the AEDs are so sensitive they will pick-up the heartbeat of someone assisting the victim and will not shock as a result.
Lush said they are currently working to train each school's faculty members in an AHA certified course that teaches proper AED use as well as CPR. While the AHA certification is good for two years, the Board of Education has requested that faculty members get recertified every year.
The school also developed an emergency response plan with the assistance of Wrens physician Dr. Chris Sheppard, which Lush said can be adapted for each school in the system.
Both Lush and Linda Weeks, a nurse and the high school's Healthcare Sciences Technician instructor, agree that Jefferson County is fortunate to have received the eight units.
"Given the distance from EMS units to the schools, these AEDs give people a fighting chance," Lush said.
Weeks pointed to the Jefferson County Board of Education's focus on student health in a number of ways as an example of good foresight on their part.
Bethune agrees that overall student health has become more of a responsibility to school systems in recent years.
"We have realized that many of our children have or are prone to have more health problems," he said. "We have nurses in each of the schools and we're working to spot health issues before they arise and direct the children to the proper facilities."
Locals voice concerns over expanded fly space for jets
• Local pilots would prefer if jets could avoid flying low over our cities
By Ben Roberts
A group of about 30 people showed up in Wadley last Thursday to further discuss the proposed changes to the "Bulldog" Military Operating Area (MOA) that encompasses a large portion of the airspace over most of Jefferson and Glascock counties.
Officials from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C., which uses the MOA for training purposes, were on hand to further explain the possible changes and listen to comments from area residents.
A number of speakers voiced concerns over the effects the military planes could have on the safety and economic well being of the towns and counties included in Bulldog MOA Alpha, or "A," and Beta, or "B." The MOA extends roughly north to south from Wrens to below Swainsboro and from east to west near Waynesboro to Sandersville.
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A sole, unidentified speaker spoke in favor of the MOA's use, saying, "If our part of the country can be used to benefit the military, then I think we should."
Officials from Emanuel County's Development Authority and County Commission echoed fears that the military flights could negatively affect the county's airport, which had recently been expanded in hopes of boosting economic growth.
Roff Sasser, who manages the airport in Swainsboro as well as operates a carrier service out of the airport, said the military flights were dangerous to area residents and suggested the Air Force take them elsewhere.
Sasser pointed out that 40-percent of Georgia's airspace was designated for military use and that that total was enough.
"Georgia has done its share, people," he said.
"If pilots could avoid flying low over our towns, I think that would satisfy our citizens," Louisville Mayor Byron Burt told those in attendance.
In a later phone interview, Louisville City Manager Don Rhodes said he has sent official complaints to Air Force officials in the past regarding low-flying aircraft.
He cited an incident that occurred years ago when a plane flew low over the city and Rhodes said the windows in his office literally rattled.
For every complaint, Rhodes said he has received a prompt letter stating each time that there were no aircraft in the area.
Lt. Bryan Cox, Chief of Media Relations for Shaw AFB, said that the reason for that answer is most likely that the planes did not belong to Shaw. Cox explained that the Bulldog MOA is intersected by three different low-flying military training routes and that the aircraft are other military planes using those routes.
"A pilot operating outside the designated flight area or below a MOA floor level is not something the Air Force would take lightly," he said. "When you see a military plane at a low altitude, your assumption is that it's an Air Force flight, but it's not necessarily a pilot operating below a designated altitude."
Cox went on to say the Bulldog MOA is considered a "high density area" because of the combination of the low-flying routes and the MOA airspace.
Cox did say that although the military did not constantly monitor their planes on radar, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does as it monitors all air traffic in the area.
Mayor Burt, who has been a pilot for over 35-years and operates Burt Aircraft, a crop-dusting business out of Louisville, said he isn't aware of any problems the Bulldog MOA has presented to flights taking off or landing at the Louisville airport. According to him, the aircraft are supposed to maintain an altitude of 1,500 feet when flying above the town.
"Although, that's still loud," Burt said.
Burt said the proposed changes could actually make things better for Louisville and Jefferson County residents because it would actually give the planes a greater area to train in.
Rhodes was quick to add the city had no desire to impede the military's work.
"We realize they need to train pilots, we just wish they would raise the floor in the area over Louisville," he said.
The proposed changes to the MOA include stretching Bulldog A's boundaries to coincide with those of Bulldog B. Bulldog A would then have an operating area between 500 feet and 10,000 feet mean sea level. Aircraft in Bulldog B would train between 10,000 and 27,000 feet.