Thursday, August 17, 2000

Help for heart attacks will be nearer

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — When heart trouble strikes residents and visitors in Middletown, the tools that could help them soon will be available in public places.

        City commissioners this week agreed to spend up to $23,700 for eight automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) that will be placed on each of the city's five fire engines, and in the municipal building, Weatherwax Golf Course and at the community center.

        The AEDs will replace two older models the fire department uses at the two stations without ambulances assigned to them.

        Fire officials hope the machines, which can be used to immediately help a person who goes into cardiac arrest, will be delivered by September, said Middletown Deputy Fire Chief Dennis Sorrell. City staff and other groups will be trained in using the devices.

        “We want to be aggressive in supplying any information and training, and we want the citizens to be aggressive about using the equipment,” he said. “That's the only way it works.”

        AEDs are thought to be one of medicine's most promising ways of improving emergency first aid for people whose hearts suddenly stop beating. Their use is on the upswing nationally and regionally in police and fire departments, and other agencies and businesses.

        “Anytime somebody goes down, I would want somebody grabbing this piece of equipment and applying it,” Deputy Chief Sorrell said. “This is probably the biggest step that has ever occurred as to sudden cardiac crises. This brings the technology out of the hospital, out of the paramedic ambulances and into the field in a manner that can be used.”

        The devices are relatively easy to use, and contain illus trations and instructions. The machine will even talk to its operator.

        “It really is dummy-proof. It tells you exactly what to do,” said Susan Davis, assistant city manager.

        AEDs won't help people whose hearts fail because the blood supply is blocked.

        The machines already are used by trained professionals in many Tristate police and fire departments, including Springboro, Mason and Deerfield Township. Many airlines also carry the units in-flight.

        “From a safety enhancement standpoint ... we now have a device available to deal with a medical emergency,” Mrs. Davis said. “One of the worst feelings you can have as a bystander is the feeling of utter helplessness.”


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