YWCA Gets 2nd Debibrillator

7 Feb

This article is from the Asheville Citizen-Times. It contains very important information, so we are posting it in full.

Asheville woman on quest to get defibrillators in public places
By Jason Sandford

Megan Shook knows how important having an automated external defibrillator at hand can be — her father died for the lack of one.

Eight years ago, 55-year-old David Walter was warming up on a stationary bike inside a Texas gym when he suddenly collapsed from cardiac arrest.

He received immediate cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, but his heart needed an electric shock from a defibrillator.

Since then, Shook has been on a mission to get automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, in as many public places as possible. Her family’s Houston-based foundation, the Charles and Betti Saunders Foundation, has helped by donating money to organizations to buy the $1,500 devices.

The foundation recently awarded money to the YWCA of Asheville and the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association for AEDs.

“My dream is to have them all over this city and have this be a heart-healthy place,” said Shook, who lives in Asheville. “Unfortunately, I had to go through my dad passing away to understand how important defibrillators are.”

Most of Asheville’s large gathering places have AEDs.

Buncombe County’s six high schools have them, as does the Asheville Regional Airport, Asheville Civic Center, Asheville Mall, and many churches and gyms.

But Shook sees gaps — grocery stores, for example. And she would like to see a centralized database that can tell first responders or members of the public where the machines are located.

“You want them to be visible,” Shook said, noting that someone responding to a heart attack victim inside the 18-story BB&T building downtown might not know there’s an AED in a nearby office or on another floor.

There’s currently no database that tracks the location of defibrillators in public places or private businesses around Asheville.

Timing is everything

Automated defibrillators, which cost about $1,400-$1,800, quickly determine whether someone has the type of abnormal heart rhythm — ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation — that can be shocked back to normal. If so, the machine delivers that jolt. About 300,000 people in the U.S. suffer sudden cardiac arrest every year.

“They’re very easy to use,” said Mary Barnett, director of the Health and Safety Department at the Mountain Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. But there should be more readily available, she said.

“You won’t find them in restaurants,” and you won’t find many around downtown Asheville near gathering spots like public parks, Barnett said.

Barnett oversees a program that can connect AED manufacturers with individuals or business, which can then buy a machine at a discount. Barnett said she facilitates 20-50 such sales a year. The Red Cross offers CPR and AED training.

Timing is everything when it comes to responding to a heart attack victim that needs an electric shock to get the heart’s lower chambers, or ventricles, back to contracting normally and moving blood through the body.

“For every minute there’s not an AED available, it decreases the survival of an individual by 10 percent,” Barnett said.

A new study published in the Jan. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine points up the fact. It showed that the odds of surviving a “shockable” arrhythmia increase if a victim can receive CPR and a shock from an AED nearby.

The study collected data on 12,930 cardiac arrests. Seventy-nine percent were “shockable,” and in that group, 34 percent of those treated with an AED used by a bystander in a public place survived.

At the Asheville YMCA on Woodfin Street, an AED sits within easy reach of staffers behind the front desk of the gym, said Dana Martin, executive community center director.

The gym has monthly CPR, AED and first aid training for staff members, he said. “It’s all about safety for us,” Martin said.

Shook plans to continue pushing for more defibrillators in public. Just two years after her father died, she watched an older professor collapse from a heart attack. This time, there was an AED close by.

“They’re not to be feared,” Shook said. “They can definitely save a life.”

Help with purchasing AEDs

The Mountain Area Chapter of the American Red Cross can help individuals or businesses get discounts on automated external defibrillators. Contact Mary Barnett at barnettma@usa.redcross.org or call 258-3888, ext. 210.

Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases:
• They will kill more than 800,000 adults in the U.S. each year.
• Of that total, 150,000 are younger than age 65.
• Treatment of these diseases accounts for 1 in every 6 U.S. health dollars spent.
• Nearly two out of every three adults with high cholesterol and about half of adults with high blood pressure don’t have their condition under control.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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