By Jessica Mathews /

Some area schools are being recognized for their efforts in planning and preparing for sudden cardiac emergencies.

163 schools are being recognized for efforts to keep up with preparedness activities during the 2020-2021 school year and will be celebrated during an upcoming virtual event for receiving the MI HEARTSafe School designation.

With schools returning to in-person instruction, officials say preparation for cardiac emergencies has never been more important.

There are 54 schools receiving the award for the first time, including Maltby Intermediate School in Brighton Area Schools. With that addition, all schools in the Brighton district now carry the designation – the only one in Livingston County. Renewing schools include the Livingston Educational Service Agency’s Pathway School and all Williamston Community Schools.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Department of Education, American Heart Association, Michigan High School Athletic Association and the Michigan Alliance for Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young will celebrate the schools with a virtual event Thursday. A virtual workshop is also planned in January to educate schools on how to become a MI HEARTSafe School.

MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian says having schools prepared for cardiac emergencies can help decrease the number of 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.

This marks the eighth year of the program.

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% of staff and 50% of coaches, including 100% of head varsity coaches and physical education staff; accessible, properly maintained and inspected AEDs with signs identifying locations; annual cardiac emergency response drills; and pre-participation sports screening of all student-athletes using the current physical and history form endorsed by MHSAA.

More information is available in the provided link.