Heritage Southwest ISD among schools honored for MI HEART safe school designation

Published 10:28 am Thursday, October 28, 2021

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Michigan Department of Education, American Heart Association, Michigan High School Athletic Association and Michigan Alliance for Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young will virtually celebrate 163 schools receiving the MI HEARTSafe School designation for the 2020-2021 school year on Oct. 28. Since the program began in 2013, 649 schools have earned this honor.

With schools returning to in-person instruction, preparation for cardiac emergencies has never been more important. This year, 163 schools are being recognized for efforts to keep up with preparedness activities during the 2020-2021 school year. There are 54 schools receiving the award for the first time. Among the renewing schools are Heritage Southwest Intermediate School District’s Brookside Learning Center in Cassopolis and North Pointe Center in Dowagiac.

To receive a MI HEARTSafe School designation, schools must have:

  • A written medical emergency response plan and team that can respond to an emergency during school hours and after-school activities and sports.
  • Current CPR/AED certification of at least 10 percent of staff and 50 percent of coaches, including 100 percent of head varsity coaches and physical education staff.
  • Accessible, properly maintained and inspected AEDs with signs identifying locations.

Annual cardiac emergency response drills.

  • Pre-participation sports screening of all student-athletes using the current physical and history form endorsed by MHSAA.

“Sudden cardiac death claims the lives of more than 250 Michigan children and young adults every year,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Having schools prepared for cardiac emergencies can help decrease the number of these tragedies and prepare school employees to have the training necessary to respond in a timely manner and avert what could be a life-threatening situation.”

Keeping up with the MI HEARTSafe School criteria is vital for maintaining a safe environment for schools. Resources to help meet the criteria are available on the MI HEARTSafe School website. MAP-SCDY will also be hosting a virtual workshop in January to educate schools on how to become a MI HEARTSafe School.

“We are proud to support Michigan’s HEARTSafe schools,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Ensuring schools are prepared for sudden cardiac emergencies through planning, training and life-saving AEDs is an important part of having safer learning environments for students, staff and the community.”

This is MI HEARTSafe Schools program’s eighth year. A HEARTSafe designation lasts for three years, and 45 schools received their third MI HEARTSafe award this year. It is encouraging and commendable to have schools continue to renew the designation every three years. A total of 477 schools are designated as MI HEARTSafe Schools.