The presence and proper use of an Automatic External Defibrillator can make the difference between life and death in a cardiac emergency. An AED can determine if a person in cardiac distress needs an electric shock, and then deliver that shock.
Efforts to place AEDs in buildings across The University of Alabama campus began last year and as awareness of the AED grows, so are the number of faculty and staff being trained to use the devices.
The idea for placing AEDs on campus came about as the University critiqued itself on the Chain of Survival set forth by the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. The chain has five steps: call 911, perform CPR, use an AED, have paramedics close enough to respond quickly and be near a hospital. After reviewing these steps, it was determined that the only step lacking was the AED.
The first installment of AEDs on campus began in July 2009 when the College’s Capstone Foundation and EMPACT West Alabama, a non-profit organization that provides emergency medical and community training programs, provided financial support to purchase 75 AEDs to install in high-traffic buildings on campus.
The installation of AEDs in existing buildings is a continuing effort. New construction bids must include an AED to ensure that all new buildings will have them.
Each building with an AED has a minimum of four people who have been trained to use the device. Although only four people per building are required to be trained, there are sometimes 12 to 20 who come for training.
Glenn Davis, EMT-P, director of the EMS program in the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research and who assists EMPACT West Alabama, says he recently held a training session for Gorgas Library and 25 people showed up. “People in the buildings have enthusiastically adopted the AED and the training that comes with it,” Davis says.
To date, there have only been two instances on campus when an AED has been used on a person in cardiac arrest, and both were successful in saving those people’s lives.
The University works in compliance with the guidelines of the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee for the Public Access AED Program. The environmental health safety program sends inspectors to check AEDs in conjunction with their other annual safety checks across campus. All AEDs are located within public view in buildings.
“It has been a team effort to get the AEDs in buildings on campus, and it is great to see people on campus gather around something that can save a life,” Davis says.