NORWALK, Conn. – Possible lawsuits were among the reasons Norwalk governmental leaders cited Thursday in their drive to get defibrillators in the schools.
“A child just two weeks ago was saved in Westport just because they had one. It was lucky it happened in Westport, not Norwalk,” Assistant City Clerk Erin Herring said to members of the Common Council’s Health, Welfare and Public Safety Committee.
The topic came up at the recent Mayor’s Night Out in East Norwalk. Mayor Harry Rilling said there may be private grant funding to pay for the life-saving equipment.
Rilling told committee members Thursday that he and Superintendent of Schools Manny Rivera have gone to a Chamber of Commerce committee to look for grant money to get defibrillators for all of Norwalk’s 19 schools. They calculated that about $49,000 is needed.
“They were very receptive,” Rilling said. “… We’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll get the money. I think Dr. Rivera is just as committed as I am to see that the schools have them.”
He might know within a day or two, he said.
Herring, the staff member assigned to the committee, was addressed as an expert by committee Chairwoman Michelle Maggio (R-District C) because of her history as an activist working to get defibrillators in the schools.
Herring’s son has heart problems, Herring said. That led her to many trips to Hartford, lobbying for legal changes.
It is now mandated that schools have defibrillators, except in communities that can’t afford it. Norwalk has continually said it can’t afford them, Herring said, but “just about every other city has them.”
It only takes one child to die, she said.
“We’re going to be liable if we don’t have them,” she said. “The funding is there.”
Board of Education chairman Mike Lyons recently said Rivera has found the money for the defibrillators in his current budget, but outside funding is being pursued as a first option.
People don’t want defibrillators for a variety of reasons, Herring said. That includes the idea that an improperly utilized defibrillator can hurt someone and leave the city open for a lawsuit, she said. But modern defibrillators will not shock someone who doesn’t need it.
“It’s not going to hurt anybody,” she said. “It can’t.”