Quick AED access is goal of ambulance association

Quick AED access is goal of ambulance association by the Vermillion Ambulance Association The Vermillion EMS community has taken the initiative to combat a very serious health problem in our area.

Sudden cardiac arrest accounts for an estimated 225,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone. More deaths are claimed from sudden cardiac arrest than breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDs � combined.

In the state of South Dakota an estimated 23,000 people die every year from sudden cardiac arrest. This includes people of all ages, with no prior history of heart disease. The most tragic thing about sudden cardiac arrest is the fact that despite the finest cardiologists and hospitals, despite the best emergency rooms and pre-hospital care, the survival rate is less than 5 percent nationally.

When someone collapses from sudden cardiac arrest, the person must receive rapid defibrillation within minutes or they will die. In Clay County, 19 out of every 20 victims do not survive.

We need to create a completely new "culture of response" among our citizens. People need to understand the importance of acting quickly in order for someone to survive. Calling 911 immediately, starting CPR, and using an AED are the first three links in the chain of survival we can all initiate to help save a life. Early access to advanced care by an ambulance is the final crucial link in the chain.

The most common means of treating sudden cardiac death � a sudden, abrupt loss of heart function � is the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). AEDs are about the size of a portable laptop computer and provide brief, but powerful electrical stimulation to a person's chest, helping to restore the heart's natural rhythm.

The user simply places the AED pads on the victim's chest, and lets the machine do the rest. EKG readings are taken, and a shock to the heart is advised and administered with a push of a button, only if needed.

AEDs were once only found in hospitals. Today, they are affordable, easy to operate units that, with limited training, can be used by the public to intervene and actually save lives.

The Vermillion Ambulance Association has begun a "drive" to provide Vermillion and Clay County with quicker access to an AED. We are trying to place these AEDs in our first responder vehicles, allowing this life-saving equipment to arrive on scene within 2 to 3 minutes of a 911 call.

It is our goal to place an AED in all first responder vehicles including: city police vehicles, county sheriff vehicles and USD public safety vehicles. Support will also be given in the form of medical direction, quality assurance, and training all first responders to use this equipment.

The Vermillion Ambulance Association is requesting interested organizations and groups to financially support our efforts to save more lives from sudden cardiac arrest in the Vermillion, Clay County area. Improved access to early defibrillation ultimately strengthens the health of our community as a whole. Saving parents, grandparents, teenagers, friends, and co-workers from sudden cardiac death brings us closer together in our families and in the wider community.

We would appreciate the opportunity to come give a demonstration on the use of an AED and an opportunity to answer any questions of your group in person. Interested groups can call Anthony at 624-7317 for more information.

The following organizations have already contacted us and have expressed an interest in saving lives: First Dakota National Bank, The Vermillion Civic Council, United Way of Vermillion, International Order of Odd Fellows, Rebekah Lodge, Siouxland Community Foundation, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary. Thank you for your support.

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