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Va. county installs AEDs in every county office building

The county’s Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management recently installed 29 more AEDs so that all county office buildings would be equipped with them

By Cathy Dyson
The Free Lance-Star

SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. — When cardiac arrest takes place, seconds count, and officials in Spotsylvania County want people to notice—and report—where there are life-saving devices that could help in such emergencies.

The county’s Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management recently installed 29 more Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, so that all county office buildings would be equipped with them.

AEDs are portable devices that deliver an electric shock to the heart. That shock is needed when the heart suddenly stops beating after a cardiac arrest. Without treatment, death can occur within minutes, according to the American Heart Association.

More AEDs are being placed in public areas where they could be accessed by citizens in emergencies. For the devices to have the most impact, officials say they need to be included in a registry called PulsePoint. That’s a cellphone app that alerts users to the location of the nearest AED when a cardiac arrest occurs in a public place.

“We’re asking you to go out into your local community, and when you see an AED at a store, church or maybe a gym, register and upload it to PulsePoint,” said Shannon Taylor, Spotsylvania firefighter and medic.

Taylor and Chief Jay Cullinan are part of a YouTube video that stresses the importance of AEDs—and how to use them.

“When someone has a heart attack or goes into sudden cardiac arrest, they have an 80 percent chance of survival,” Cullinan said. “That goes down 10 to 20 percent every minute thereafter.”

By getting the devices “into the hands of citizens, they are able to get it to the person in need much faster and increase their chance of survival and a long life following that,” the Spotsylvania chief said.

In the video, Taylor demonstrates what happens when a PulsePoint user gets an alert about a cardiac arrest. The phone shows a photo of the nearest AED and gives its location. In Taylor’s case, it read: “Spotsylvania County Public Safety Building, second floor, at the tops of the steps.”

When the AED is retrieved from a cabinet and activated, it gives the same detailed directions. The first instruction is to call 911 immediately.

The AED then prompts the user step-by-step, from taking a pad off the piece of blue plastic and applying it to the bare skin of the victim, “exactly as is shown in the picture. Press pad firmly.”

It tells when to push the button to apply the shock and when to continue chest compressions and breaths.

PulsePoint is activated when a cardiac arrest happens in public places, not in private homes.

Spotsylvania County also is working on its HEARTSafe designation, a public health initiative intended to help more people survive a cardiac arrest when it happens outside a hospital setting.

Stafford County helped the Rappahannock EMS Council become the first such entity in Virginia to launch the program, and Stafford and King George are designated as HEARTSafe communities.

In addition to their work installing more AEDs and circulating the PulsePoint message, Spotsylvania County’s employees also rang in American Heart Month on Feb. 2 with National Wear Red Day.

The same day, workers at Mary Washington Healthcare kicked off the monthlong observation with a hot-chocolate bar, heart-healthy snacks and information from the American Heart Association.

The National Wear Red Day emphasizes the association’s “Go Red for Women” movement to end heart disease and stroke in women. While the two are the biggest killers worldwide of both males and females, cardiovascular disease claims approximately one in three women who die each year in the United States.

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