Rilling, Norwalk council members, looking to get defibrillators

This defibrillator is the only one in Norwalk City Hall, Assistant Town Clerk Erin Herring said.

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.”


6 responses to “Rilling, Norwalk council members, looking to get defibrillators”

  1. Piberman

    A city with the 5th highest teacher salaries in the state not having defribbilators in its public schools. Hmmm. How could the NFT missed this glaring omission ? An obvious “respect” for teacher issue.

  2. Piberman,
    I guess this will “justify” the teachers incredible high salary, after all they are now going to have to become CPR certified.
    Afterall, if they are responsible for keeping a child alive performing CPR until help arrived, shouldn’t they be paid for it? (Not that their main responsibility is to educate the children but we know how they measured up on that by the test scores….)

  3. Diane C2

    Time for Norwalk Hospital, who presumably pays zero property taxes here, breaks out their check book and pays for the school AEDs.

  4. Suzanne

    Really? Norwalk Hospital pays no property taxes? Would this include their affiliated offices as well? Are they a non-profit? I am trying to think why no tax payments would be true. Did Norwalk give them some kind of exemption? Is it regulated by the State? Can you clarify? Your point is well-taken, though. Not only should they provide the equipment, they should provide the classes that certifies their use. To me, this would be in their best interest.

    1. Mark Chapman


      Yes, Norwalk Hospital is a not-for-profit hospital and a teaching hospital for Yale School of Medicine.

  5. Suzanne


    Link to article from the New York Times about what not for profit hospitals are supposed to give back to the community in exchange for the tax breaks they receive. I think a few life-saving units provided to our educational system by Norwalk Hospital is within the purview of this exchange.

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