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W.Va. county places AEDs, Narcan in courthouse, public buildings

Mercer County officials are placing the devices after a medical emergency at the Courthouse Annex earlier this year

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Photo/AAIREY, Pixabay

By Greg Jordan
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON, W.Va. — Minutes count when a cardiac arrest or an overdose strikes, so automated rescue devices and Naloxone overdose medication are being placed at the Mercer County Courthouse and other public buildings throughout the county.

White steel cabinets containing Automated External Defibrillator units, also known as AEDs, starting appearing this week in Mercer County’s public buildings. One was already in place at the Memorial Building outside the office of Keith Gunnoe, director of the Mercer County Emergency Services Office and Floodplain Management. More lined up along a table were awaiting installation at other locations.

“The county commission bought 10 AEDs,” Gunnoe said. “And Bluefield Rescue and Princeton Rescue Squad bought one each and donated it to the county, so we have a total of 12 AEDs. These AEDs can be utilized in the event we have someone collapse in any county facility or building because they’re going to be in all the county buildings and they can be used if somebody had a sudden cardiac arrest event or whatever.”

Three of the AED units are going in the Mercer County Courthouse; one will be placed on each level. Two more will go in the Mercer County Courthouse Annex; again, one on each level. The Memorial Building will have two AED units and two more are going to the Mercer County Day Report Center. The Mercer County Animal Shelter and the dining hall at the 4-H Camp at Glenwood Recreation Park will each have an AED unit. The Gardner Center will have a unit, too.

“They will be mounted in cabinets that are marked very well and within that there will also be a pack of Narcan should we have someone that overdoses,” Gunnoe said. “All of this is useable. AEDs are pretty commonplace. They’re being installed in public buildings where there are gatherings of people. They’re automated, so they basically tell the rescuer exactly what to do. You don’t have to necessarily be an EMT or paramedic to use this.”

AED’s are designed for use by the general public.

“It walks you through the steps once you turn the machine on,” Gunnoe stated. “Tells you exactly what to do.”

The automated units are also designed so they will not administer electric shocks to patients who do not need one. An AED does not work on every patient with a cardiac problem.

“If you’re having a heart attack due to a blood clot that has moved through the heart and stops the flow of blood, this is not going to help that,” Gunnoe said. “What an AED does for those people who have a heart issue that is brought on by a disruption of the electrical activity of the heart. That’s where these machines come into play.”

When a person suddenly collapses, it is difficult to know whether the shock an AED can deliver to a person who actually needs one can help.

“You’re going to put this on them and the machine is going to analyze what rhythm the heart is in and it will let the rescuer know if a shock is advised or not,” Gunnoe said. “This machine will not shock a patient unless their heart is in a specific rhythm to do so, so they’re safe to use. You may put this on a patient and it never shocks them. It will advise if there’s a shock. Use of CPR and the use of an AED at the early onset of a cardiac event is crucial to people’s survival rates. They’re good to have and it’s becoming very commonplace for these to be in public buildings.”

The AED cabinets also contain Naloxone kits to treat people suffering opioid overdoses.

Magistrate Mike Crowder spoke earlier this year to the Mercer County Commission about getting AEDs installed in county buildings after there was a medical emergency at the Courthouse Annex. He recalled hearing a public defender calling for help when a man suddenly bent over and started turning blue. Perry Richmond with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department hurried to render aid. The man had a pulse and could have been experiencing a drug overdose. Narcan, which Community Connections, Inc. had placed in the annex, was used.

The Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton Rescue Squad were both dispatched to the annex, and Crowder praised their responses.

The man’s oxygen level was low and he denied using opioids, Crowder said. He was transported to WVU Medicine-Princeton Community Hospital where he later checked himself out.

“I’m appreciative that the county commission took the steps to move forward and put these in buildings throughout the county, and hopefully we’ll never have to use them; but if there’s a need for them, they’ll be there,” Gunnoe said.

(c)2023 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.)
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