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New AEDs coming to SWR; football team to play in Rocky Point

Mark Passamonte

After several months of community requests and discussions, the Shoreham-Wading River school board has decided to purchase 24 additional automated external defibrillator machines.

In addition, the varsity football team will defend its Suffolk County championship at Rocky Point High School, as opposed to only playing away games this season as the new turf-field is constructed, as well as receive new uniforms and helmets.

[Related: SWR reacts in favor of new sports equipment safety standards]

During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, district athletic director Mark Passamonte recommended supplying new AEDs throughout each of the schools and athletic fields.

Currently, the district has about 16 AEDs, though it is likely that most of those will need to be replaced at the end of the 2015-16 school year, he added.

In total, the district will have 40 AEDs for its four buildings, an amount Mr. Passamonte described as more progressive compared to other districts.

The investment is expected to cost between $30,000 and $40,000.

Superintendent Steven Cohen said he’s pleased with how the purchasing agreement was reached.

“I think there was good work done over the last couple of months,” he said. “There was lively public debate and the administration and the board were able to make it happen.”

The community’s request for AEDs began in May after 15-year-old SWR student Jack Crowley was critically injured during a North Shore Little League baseball game in Rocky Point. A ball hit him in the chest and stopped his heart, but he was revived with the aid of an AED.

Dr. Marc Dinowitz, a surgeon and Wading River resident, has been a leading figure in student safety at the district and said after the vote he’s “ecstatic” about the school board’s decision.

“Finally, in Shoreham-Wading River, we’re not only going to have safety, but also do it with responsibility,” he said.

In addition to purchasing more devices, the district has also agreed to implement Dr. Dinowitz’s “time-out” proposal, meaning coaches will convene a brief meeting before every athletic event to ensure an AED is available and functioning.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the school board also approved a plan to allow the Wildcats football team play home games at Rocky Point High School. The Shoreham-Wading River High School football team originally planned to play every game on the road since construction on a new turf field will last until December.

“We’re trying to give the kids and the fans at least some sense of a home field,” board president John Zukowski said. “When they do go to the Rocky Point field, it will be our kids and our fans.”

Just ahead of the start of the new season, the district also purchased 50 football uniforms using about $11,400 from the $50,000 “Fight Like Dylan Award” grant it received in January. The Wildcat Athletic Club also donated 13 used football helmets, worth $1,950, and the Thomas Cutinella Memorial Foundation donated 18 new helmets, which cost $3,330.

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