County un­veils new life­sav­ing equip­ment

54 de­fib­ril­la­tors will be lo­cated around Charles; safe for the pub­lic to use

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By PAUL LAGASSE pla­gasse@somd­

The Charles County Safety Of­fice on Tues­day un­veiled an easy-to-use life­sav­ing de­vice at a pub­lic cer­e­mony at The Jude House Inc. in Bel Al­ton. The Jude House is one of many county-owned fa­cil­i­ties that will be re­ceiv­ing the de­vices, called au­to­mated ex­ter­nal de­fib­ril­la­tors, or AEDs.

Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter F. Mur­phy (D) and Com­mis­sioner Ken Robin­son (D) were on hand to wit­ness a demon­stra­tion of an AED on a man­nequin and learn about how easy it is for any­one to use the equip­ment to save a life.

Robin­son opened the event

by not­ing that car­diac ar­rest is one of the lead­ing causes of death in the United States. “Each minute de­fib­ril­la­tion is de­layed, the chance of sur­vival is re­duced by ap­prox­i­mately 10 per­cent,” Robin­son said. “I’m happy to say that Charles County is work­ing to im­prove th­ese sta­tis­tics among our res­i­dents by in­stalling 54 AED ma­chines through­out gov­ern­ment build­ings, com­mu­nity cen­ters and lo­cal parks.”

Joane Gul­vas, the Charles County safety of­fi­cer, ex­plained that AEDs are por­ta­ble de­vices that check the heart rhythm and send an elec­tric shock to the heart to try and re­store nor­mal rhythm. “The AEDs we pur­chased are very user friendly,” she said. “Any lay per­son can take it off the shelf and use it. They not only show the in­di­vid­ual what to do, but also have au­dio that tells them what to do.”

To pur­chase the 54 AEDs, the safety of­fice ap­plied for and re­ceived a grant of nearly $20,000 from the CPR Savers AED Grant Pro­gram. CPR Savers & First Aid Sup­ply is a na­tional dis­trib­u­tor of life­sav­ing prod­ucts and equip­ment for gov­ern­ment agen­cies, first re­spon­ders, hos­pi­tals, schools and in­di­vid­u­als.

“We’ve added AEDs to county parks, com­mu­nity cen­ters and rec cen­ters, as well as places like the Jude Center here, which is so im­por­tant to our county,” Gul­vas said. “In most of the parks, they’re lo­cated un­der the con­ces­sion canopies.”

Charles County Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices paramedics Pam Gantt and Suzanne Chagnon demon­strated the steps for op­er­at­ing the new AED. The de­vice pro­vides clear ver­bal in­struc­tions for each step, along with clearly drawn di­a­grams and but­tons that flash when it is time to push them. “Shock ad­vised,” in­tones the de­vice in a loud, clear voice. “Stay clear of pa­tient. Press the flash­ing orange but­ton now. Shock de­liv­ered.”

“You don’t have to be afraid of hurt­ing some­one be­cause th­ese ma­chines ac­tu­ally know whether or not the in­di­vid­ual is in a rhythm that needs a shock,” ex­plained Gul­vas af­ter the demon­stra­tion. “If that in­di­vid­ual does not need a shock from the AED, it will not shock.” In such an in­stance, the de­vice will au­to­mat­i­cally be­gin guiding the user in how to ap­ply CPR us­ing au­di­ble beats for tim­ing chest com­pres­sions and breaths.

“I think it’s a huge ben­e­fit,” Dr. Roshonda Con­tee, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and clin­i­cal di­rec­tor of The Jude House, said af­ter the event. “Cer­tainly we have staff who are CPR cer­ti­fied, and we make sure we have a cer­tain num­ber of them on each shift, but it’s so much bet­ter to have an ap­pa­ra­tus on hand to be able to as­sist us while wait­ing for med­i­cal as­sis­tance.”

The Jude House has three AEDs, one in each of the res­i­den­tial wings and one in the lobby. Con­tee ex­plained that the county safety of­fice will be pro­vid­ing train­ing to Jude House staff in us­ing the AEDs and re­fresher train­ing in per­form­ing car­diopul­monary re­sus­ci­ta­tion (CPR).

A video demon­stra­tion of an AED is in­cluded in the county com­mis­sion­ers’ monthly re­port for June, which is avail­able on the CCGTV Com­mis­sion­ers chan­nel on YouTube at https://www.

John Filer, chief of emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices in the Charles County Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices, praised the ef­forts of the Safety Of­fice in ob­tain­ing the AEDs. “Our av­er­age re­sponse time is eight and a half min­utes, which is below the na­tional stan­dard, which is phe­nom­e­nal. As good as that is, eight and a half min­utes is still too long. So the ev­ery­day com­mon cit­i­zen us­ing hands-only CPR and us­ing the pub­lic ac­cess AED sys­tem is the key to life.”

Filer noted that Mary­land, like other states, has a “Good Sa­mar­i­tan” law that in­dem­ni­fies peo­ple who of­fer as­sis­tance to others who ap­pear to be injured or in­ca­pac­i­tated. The law is in­tended to en­cour­age by­s­tanders to as­sist peo­ple in med­i­cal need with­out fear of le­gal reper­cus­sions if they ac­ci­den­tally in­jure the other per­son while do­ing so.

Filer warned that peo­ple should follow the AED’s ver­bal in­struc­tions closely be­cause the elec­tric shock is very strong. “I’ve been shocked be­fore,” he said. “You’ll never for­get it for the rest of your life, trust me.”

Even so, the county’s new AEDs can be used safely by al­most any­one. “Mid­dle school kids can use it, and el­e­men­tary school kids can too,” he said. “When we hold our EMS for Chil­dren Teddy Bear clin­ics, high school kids are a lit­tle too cool to do it, but el­e­men­tary school kids will play with it all day long. It’s that sim­ple.”

“It just takes enough courage to say, ‘I want to be a hero to­day,’” Filer said.


Charles County will be plac­ing 54 easy-to-use por­ta­ble de­fib­ril­la­tors like this one in county-owned parks, recre­ational and sports fa­cil­i­ties, and build­ings.

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