Work sites lining up for free defibrillator

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff
Posted June 24, 2010, at 12:04 a.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — An initiative to give a life-saving device to a local business has created so much interest that it may become an annual event.

HealthySV, a consortium of organizations that are operating as a Healthy Maine Partnership, and Sebasticook Valley Hospital began soliciting applications last week to give away a Philips HeartStart OnSite Defibrillator Kit. As of Wednesday, about 10 local businesses had already responded, which according to organizers is a strong enough response to indicate that the project has struck a chord.

“A lot of work sites have already contacted us,” said Karen Hawkes, HeathySV’s director of community health and education. “This is the first time we’ve done this, and it might be something that we can do every year.”

The automated external defibrillator, or AED, is a device that with minimal training can be used to save a person who is experiencing cardiac arrest, or at least postpone the damage done by a heart attack until medical personnel arrive. In addition to jolting the heart back into action, the AED also can determine whether the person is in cardiac arrest to begin with.

Of the nearly 1.2 million Americans who will suffer a heart attack this year, half will die, according to a HealthySV press release. Hawkes said the level of coronary heart disease in the Sebasticook Valley area is high compared with state and national averages.

The program, which will award a defibrillator kit on July 30, is aimed at work sites in Cambridge, Carmel, Clinton, Corinna, Detroit, Dixmont, Etna, Harmony, Hartland, Levant, Newport, Palmyra, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Ripley, St. Albans and Stetson. Hawkes said the successful applicant will be a work site where there is a commitment to have at least two people on each shift who are trained to use the device. The sites also must agree to develop a work site wellness program in collaboration with HealthySV.

Laurie Alexander, education coordinator for Sebasticook Valley Hospital, said the AED certification class, which is usually done in conjunction with CPR training, can usually be accomplished during a half-day class.

“The most important thing about an AED is that it minimizes a patient’s downtime,” said Alexander. “It increases a patient’s chances of survival.”

Alexander said the program is valuable because it not only will put another life-saving device in the community, but also provides an opportunity to educate people about how skills such as CPR and AED operation can save lives.

“As long as someone is strong enough to do chest compressions, they can take a CPR course,” said Alexander, who added that any hospital or American Heart Association chapter has information about training opportunities. “This is about prevention. We never know when someone will need help.”

Applications for the free AED kit, which is valued at $2,200, are due July 16. For more information or to obtain an application, call Hawkes at 487-3890, ext. 2733 or e-mail khawkes@emh.org.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/06/24/news/work-sites-lining-up-for-free-defibrillator/ printed on October 25, 2014