Town Enhances Public Safety With Fifth Aed Unit

Town Enhances Public Safety With Fifth Aed Unit

Last month, State Senator David P. Tikoian donated an outdoor, community AED cabinet to the town of Smithfield.

AED stands for automated external defibrillator, sometimes automatic electronic defibrillator. Most people may be familiar with a defibrillator as a medical device, having seen them used in movies and in emergency and hospital television dramas. They are a critical piece of equipment used to help restart a heart during a cardiac arrest emergency.

According to the CDC, more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are reported annually in the United States. An estimated 70% to 90% of people experiencing such cardiac arrests die before reaching the hospital. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) within minutes of such cardiac arrests can dramatically raise survival rates.

“Inside (buildings) is where you’d most often see an automatic external defibrillator,” explains Todd Manni, the Director of Emergency Management.

This type of outdoor AED unit is relatively new, becoming readily available over the last couple of years. The one recently donated by Senator Tikoian and installed at Smithfield High School was mounted on the scoreboard between the baseball and softball fields. Inside a weather tight cabinet is a lifesaving AED, and it’s available for use every hour of every day. The cabinet is locked and can only be opened by dialing 9-1-1 using the phone supplied with the unit. A caller will immediately be connected to a dispatcher who will provide a code that can be used to open the cabinet to access the defibrillator, which could then be removed and taken to the person in need of medical aid. Just by making this phone connection, the emergency is automatically reported, and a rescue will be dispatched to the location.

“AEDs are an invaluable tool during a sudden cardiac arrest,” Manni says. “Quickly beginning chest compressions at a rate of,100 to 120 per minute, and early defibrillation for a person who suffered a cardiac arrest is critical to increasing their chances of survival.”

“From my perspective, part of keeping a community safe and prepared for a medical emergency requires the ability of lifesaving equipment to be deployed swiftly,” Tikoian says.

While safe and proper use of a defibrillator is fairly simple and can be taught to anyone, Manni encourages the public to take a hands-on CPR class so that they know how to administer CPR.

“You have to, first, be able to recognize sudden cardiac arrest and act quickly,” Manni stresses. “That’s the most important thing, early recognition. Then act by starting chest compressions, dialing 9-1-1 to get medical help on the way, and continuing compressions until rescue gets there. Ideally, have another bystander grab the AED. With the help of another person, have them attach the AED, turn it on if it doesn’t do so when you open the cover of the AED and follow the voice instructions that come from the AED. These lifesaving actions can greatly increase the chance of survival.”

Most people may not be aware that this is not the only location in Smithfield where you can find an outdoor AED cabinet. There are four other locations besides the new one at Smithfield High School. There is one at the Little League field at Deerfield Park, one at the soccer field at Deerfield Park, one mounted to the concession stand at Whipple Field, and one at Pleasant View Elementary School basketball court.

“Positioning outdoor, community AED cabinets in recreational and athletic venues across town is a safety and lifesaving initiative I was eager to partner with the Smithfield Emergency Management Agency and their Director, Todd Manni,” Tikoian says. “Upon completion of the Boyle Athletic Complex, it’s my intention to donate another outdoor, community AED cabinet to the town so it may be installed within the confines of the complex.”

Manni says, “People look at AEDs and think they are only utilized in situations where someone goes into cardiac arrest because of a heart attack, but the reality is people go into sudden cardiac arrest because of trauma as well. So, it’s not just a medical emergency that brings on sudden cardiac arrest, it could be some type of trauma, as well.”

A line-drive in baseball or softball, a tackle in football, or any other hard impact to the chest, could potentially put someone into cardiac arrest, and that’s why these outdoor units have been placed in locations where children are involved in sports. Hopefully, they never get used, but if a defibrillator is ever needed, they are now there for use in such an emergency.

We saw what happened to Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin on Monday Night Football in January 2023 when Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins’s helmet struck him in the chest as he was making a tackle. Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest, and his life was saved by the Bills’ training staff administering CPR and employing an AED.

That’s why it is important for everyone to have basic knowledge of performing hands-only CPR. Classes are available in town, where you can learn not only life-saving CPR, but you can become familiar with the outdoor AED unit and gain the confidence needed to use a defibrillator should such an emergency arise.

To find out when and where CPR classes are available, contact the Smithfield Fire Department, 401.949.1330, and ask for Chief Jonathan Polak. To sponsor a cabinet, please call Todd Manni at 401.233.1095.

2024 © The Smithfield Times

Privacy Policy   |   Website Designed by JPG Designs