My wife and I, together with 20 others, recently attended a meeting at The Villages Public Safety Department (VPSD) concerning the AED program that is being implemented throughout The Villages, FL. You may ask, ‘What is the AED program and why is it important to me?’
Nationwide, the survivor rate for individuals having a heart attack is in the 5 – 7% area, depending on whose statistics one reads. That means, on average, 93 – 95% of those having a heart attack do not survive their heart attack. That’s a staggering fact. We learned that the greatest cause for those deaths is a lack of quick response to the scene and proper steps taken immediately after the attack.
Captain Gail Lazenby, head of the VPSD’s Training and Quality Assurance division, advised all attendees that his department has stressed the importance of quick response to all emergencies, especially suspected cardiac arrests. Currently the average response time to an emergency is between 4 – 6 minutes. That fact is less than the national average of 7+ minutes but it is the goal of the VPSD to reduce the time even more with the AED Program. As of last year the survivor rate in The Villages, FL for victims of cardiac arrest was 42-44% not 5-7%. Amazing, but not accidental.
AED is short for Automated External Defibrillator. This is a new technological marvel that allows average, non-medical individuals like you and me to apply that electric shock, if needed, that will bring a heart rhythm back into its proper state.
The Villages, FL is striving to place one of these life-saving devices into every neighborhood, with community participation, and training its residents how to use them. The neighbors then become the initial responders until trained EMTs can get there and take the patient to the hospital. It is, truly, a visionary effort by The Villages to help extend the life of its residents.
It was exciting to find out that, except for children, CPR is now given without any mouth-to-mouth breathing or checking for obstructed airways… just continuous rhythmic compression of the chest. One should not fear the idea of participating in someone’s rescue efforts now, since it has become, literally, more hands on and simple. And with the AED, we were told, and shown, no one could make a mistake applying the electric shock because the machine will not allow it.
As far as I know, there are now over 10 AED neighborhoods in Winifred Village that have their own AED groups. One machine is already installed in a central location for Rosebury Loop residents, and ours will be installed in a couple of weeks. With over 800 homes in Winifred Village alone, we could probably support at least another 10 or 15 AED locations but each neighborhood is responsible for getting it together and spending the money necessary to purchase it and The Villages gives the training free. The cost is negligible for each family and the benefits are, truly, life saving.
Anyone reading this who has been asked to participate in placing an AED in your neighborhood and you’re still ‘thinking it over’, please take it from me this is something that could make a life or death difference to you and your spouse. Whether you want to become a listed ‘Responder’ to an emergency in your neighborhood, you should support the effort and attend the classes. You will then have the knowledge you need to change, for the better, the outcome of an emergency in your own home.
For those of you reading this who do not live in The Villages, FL, use this article and these videos to encourage your neighbors to establish an AED/CPR program in your neighborhood. The life you save could be your own. An old cliche, but true.