Edmonds Fire Department and department foundation officials are hoping seven will be a lucky number the next time someone suffers a heart attack in the city.
The foundation has donated enough money – $17,200 – to buy seven of the latest technology AEDs, or automatic external defibrillators.
“We’ve been talking about the possibility for three or four years,” Joy Cain, a foundation member, said of the donation and purchase. “When we first broached the subject, there were concerns about liability, so we backed off.”
Since then, Cain said, the technology has gotten better, easier to use and the price has dropped. “Now, you can buy them off the shelf,” she said. “(The foundation) is fortunate enough to have good bank account due to generosity of a lot of people.”
An AED is a computerized medical device that is programmed to evaluate a person’s heart rhythm and deliver an electrical shock, if needed. The units use voice prompts, lights, and text-messages to tell the user which steps to take.
Mark Correira, chief of training and safety for the fire department, will coordinate the program, that will put the devices at:
• Edmonds City Hall
• Frances Anderson Center,
• Public Safety Complex (Police, Court, and Council Chambers)
• Public Works Building,
• South County Senior Center
• Edmonds Library
• Yost Pool
The purchase was approved by the foundation earlier this month and Correira said the devices have been ordered. He expects to start training staff and others at the seven locations in the next few weeks.
Correira said the new units have upgraded technology that make them simpler and can be used on children. He said some earlier units were not appropriate for use on children.
Correira also said the brand purchased, a Medtronic LifePak 500, is similar to the equipment carried on fire department trucks. “The patches used on patient are the same as fire department’s so they wouldn’t have to change the pads,” he said.
The cost of AEDs run from a little more than $1,000 to nearly $3,000. The models being purchased by the foundation run about $2,500 but Correira said they are fairly rugged along with the compatibility with existing department gear.
Farrell Fleming, director of the senior center, said the timing is perfect.
“We had already decided to do something about it and the first thing I was going to do was call the foundation to see if they could help, and they approached us,” Fleming said. “Our grassroots advisory council that meets regularly has been pushing for this.”
Fleming said training is a crucial point. “We’re having all our staff and some of our key volunteers trained,” he said.
Fleming said that in his three years at the center, there has been one case that clearly would’ve called for an AED. “We did CPR until (firefighters) arrived,” Fleming said, adding that the man survived. “I would think that we’d have on the order of one a year but for that one person it could make a huge difference.”
Cain said this isn’t the first big donation for the foundation that formed in 1996.
“Our initial push was to get a thermal imaging camera,” Cain said. Intended to spot the body heat of victims inside a building, Cain said firefighters also use the cameras to see hot spots in fires and check to make sure a fire is out.
“The first camera was $19,500,” she said. Since then, prices have come down and the foundation has purchased three more, she said.
Correira said that while most heart attacks happen at home, he is excited to see the AEDs in the community. “AED’s in public are great, he said. “Anytime you can get someone shocked sooner you have better survivability.”