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SMC will use AED machines

Angela Saoud | Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Saint Mary’s security has added an Automated External Defibrillator machine to its emergency response services in order to more quickly aid people suffering from heart attacks. When a person suffers from cardiac arrest, he or she has only a few vital minutes to get help.

“The only use of an AED machine is to save someone’s life,” said Mary Pat Leonard, health initiative director for the Fort Wayne American Heart Association. “The AED works as sort of a jumper cable to get the heart pumping again.”

The paddles of the AED device are placed on the chest of a cardiac arrest victim by an emergency worker. If the machine does not detect a heartbeat, the paddles will charge. After following the automated voice prompts, a button is depressed and a shock is delivered to the person. This process is repeated until a heartbeat is detected or until medical help arrives.

“By having this machine on campus, we’re cutting down response time to get to the victim,” said College Safety Officer Dan Woods. “The first few minutes after someone is down are critical, and anything we can do to speed response time can only help.”

When an AED machine is purchased, it is required by law that the people who will be using it undergo training. Last week, security team members underwent a two-session emergency training program where they were taught CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and how to use the AED in an emergency situation. All full-time security officers were trained.

The AED machine is ready for use and will be located in one of the security vehicles on duty for easy accessibility.

“After the first three minutes of a heart not beating, there is a possibility of losing 10 percent of brain function per minute,” Leonard said. “It is vitally important that the machine is able to get to them quickly to prevent brain damage.”

Spokespeople from both Saint Mary’s security and the American Heart Association said they feel that having an AED machine on a college campus is important.

“It’s important to have for the students, but also for faculty, staff and family members that may come to visit or come to a sporting event,” Woods said.

AED machines have been implemented at many locations in the community, as well. The South Bend Airport, various Meijer stores and even some parochial, private and public schools in Mishawaka and South Bend have purchased machines and trained personnel.

The AED machine, which cost $3,000 including the training supplies, is programmed only to help someone in need.

“It is important to know that an AED machine cannot shock someone who has a regular heartbeat,” said Leonard. “The machine will only work if it does not detect a heartbeat from the person.”

Security members said they are excited about the new machine in their department.

“We hope we never have to use the machine, but at least now we are able to help if we ever have to,” Woods said.