The City of East Ridge has acquired a new tool that just might save your or one of your loved one’s life.
Interim City Manager and Fire Chief Mike Williams said the city just got in six automated external defibrillators that will be placed in several city buildings and at Camp Jordan Park.
“Having these are a must,” Chief Williams said. “I’ve seen research about pediatric health issues that say AEDs made a difference.”
The AEDs are small portable devices that check the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to a person, including a child, whose heart has stopped beating. AEDs are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition where the heart stops beating and the blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. Sudden cardiac arrest usually causes death if it’s not treated within minutes. According to medical experts, each minute of cardiac arrest leads to a 10 percent reduction in survival. Using an AED on a person whose heart has stopped beating may save their life.
Chief Williams said that cardiac issues at sporting events are not uncommon. That’s why the city intends to place four of the units at Camp Jordan Park at concession stands around the park and near the soccer complex. Another will be placed at the Community Center and one will be placed inside City Hall.
East Ridge Fire Department Lt. Jeff Duncan said that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) effects 1,000 people a day across the United States.
“With an AED on site, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence,” Lt. Duncan said.
Several of the ERFD firefighters are coaches in youth leagues. They said it would be a good idea for youth league coaches at Camp Jordan take a short online course called CardiacWise that would familiarize them with using the devices.
Parks & Recreation Director Stump Martin said after the Tennessee State Legislature passed a law called “Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act,” personnel in the park and recreation league coaches were required to take a course alerting people to the symptoms of SCA. Martin said the park had one defibrillator at the park that was kept in an all-terrain vehicle that could speed to the victim in case it was needed.
“This is something that we need,” Martin said. “Our insurance pushes the city to shade on the side of caution for not only the kids, but it could be anyone at the park who may need (the AED).”
Lt. Duncan and Chief Williams both said the devices are very easy to use.
“What’s the first thing you’re going to do if you see somebody go down? Call 911,” Williams explained. “Then you get this AED out and it literally walks you through every step.”
Lt. Duncan demonstrated the device. Open the plastic container and you got an audio prompt. It also has graphic instructions in an easy “one, two, three” step operation. The person using the device either gets pads to place on an adult or a child. A diagram shows you where to place the pads. The AED then determines if the person is in cardiac arrest and tells the user of the device to push the button to deliver the electric shock or not to do so.
Lt. Duncan showed this reporter an online video of a female high school volleyball player going into sudden cardiac arrest after serving the ball in a match. It shows people rushing to her and using an AED. In one minute the athlete’s heart was restarted and she was on her feet awaiting further medical attention.
Officials explained the AEDs were purchased from a firm in Middle Tennessee at $1,000 apiece. The money for the purchase came out of the Parks & Recreation Fund and the city’s Administrative Department budget. Chief Williams said that he would like to have an AED in every city building in the future.
The devices will be deployed within the next week officials said. They are contained in a sturdy white box clearly marked “Defibrillator.” Officials said they are virtually maintenance free and have a long battery life.
“This provides a tool to the public to be able to use,” Chief Williams said. “It will give the public an opportunity to intervene before we (medical help) gets there. These things save lives.”