Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Children safer in Norwich because of new defibrillators

There’s something new in Norwich schools this year, and it has nothing to do with books, programs or teachers.

It has to do with saving lives.

Thanks to the generosity of the community and the Backus Foundation, more than 30 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have been placed throughout Norwich, in schools and athletic fields.

Twenty-two of them have been allotted to Norwich Public Schools, with the rest going to the Norwich Recreation Department and Norwich Free Academy.

This is all the result of the community coming together following the tragic death of Larry Pontbriant, a 15-year-old who died following cardiac arrest during a running event at Mohegan Park.

The Backus Foundation donated 10 AEDs to the Larry Pontbriant Athletic Safety Fund in support of the hospital’s mission to improve the health of the community, and many other individuals and groups have stepped up as well.

This is an important safety measure. Many times we don’t think of young people having heart conditions, but it can happen to anyone. Many young athletes die each year nationwide due to cardiovascular disorders, and some of these deaths could be prevented if AEDs were more widely available.

Now, in Norwich and some surrounding towns, they are. And our children are safer because of it.

Ravi Prakash, MD, is a pediatrician on the Backus Hospital Medical Staff with a private practice in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Dr. Prakash and all of the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org, or comment on their blog at healthydocs.blogspot.com.

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