New AEDs will save lives

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 6, 2003

Nearly $33,000 in federal grant money has allowed the Troy Fire Department to purchase two automatic external defibrillators and local emergency officials hope the business community will soon get in on the act.

The AED devices were made possible by a $32,900 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but two units are not enough, said local fire department officials. They hope that businesses and civic groups will chip in and buy some of the life saving devices, which provide a series of electrical shocks and revive victims of heart attacks.

"The faster you get to somebody, the more chance you have of reviving somebody and saving their life," said Lt. Thomas Outlaw. "Having one of these devices at a place of work, for example, cuts down tremendously on the amount of time it would take to actually get them to the machine and apply the treatment."

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Outlaw said several factories were installing the machines in order to save the lives of employees and some stores and shopping centers were also purchasing the machines in case cardiac emergencies should strike customers.

"Really, you would want to have one any place that large numbers of people gather," he said.

According to information provided by the fire department, somewhere in the United States a person goes into sudden cardiac arrest every two minutes. When the heart's rhythm becomes erratic and blood can't be transported to all parts of the body, the person collapses and faces death.

The AED machine is a compact battery-operated machine that can be carried in a small shoulder bag. It delivers electrical shocks to restore the victim's heart rhythm and, in the case of the two machines purchased by the Troy Fire Department, even walks the machine's user through the steps of CPR.

"It's really simple and it even talks to you to tell you what to do next," Outlaw said. "It has little pictures on the machine to give you visual aids of what to do next and it talks you right through the process."

The fire department will train anyone who wants to buy a machine and learn how to use it, Outlaw said, noting that a group of fourth-graders were able to achieve 100 percent efficiency with one of the machines.

Outlaw said the machines are relatively cheap at about $1700 and he encouraged businesses to make an investment in the health and safety of Pike County's citizens.

"We want to raise awareness about these machines and maybe some civic clubs could chip in and help to purchase some more of them," he said.

According to Outlaw, even though the fire department is not always the first responder to the scene of a heart attack, the devices could be used to save the lives of men and women on the scene of a fire.

"Heart attacks are actually one of the leading causes of death among firemen," he said.

The importance of more machines lies in the vital nature of getting to the victim early, he said.

"Getting the electrical stimulation applied within the first three minutes is the key," he said. "They are putting these things in airports and casinos and I heard one city was even putting them on street corners like phone booths since it almost defeats the purpose if you have to lie around and wait for one to get there."