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EMS asks businesses to register defibrillators

KRISTEN SWING • Mar 17, 2007 at 10:42 AM

JOHNSON CITY - In times of emergency it can be difficult to remember the simplest things, like your address, your phone number or even your name. Keeping that in mind, officials with the Washington County/Johnson City Emergency Medical Service are encouraging area establishments to take a proactive approach to saving lives.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are becoming more and more common in public places throughout Washington County, but not all of them are registered as required by state law.

"I bet there's 50 to 100 out there that I'm not even aware of," said EMS Operations Director Steve Croley. "They have them in wellness centers, some restaurants, in dentist offices, in some private businesses - wherever you have a lot of people on a regular basis."

According to the American Red Cross, an AED is a device about the size of a laptop computer that analyzes a heart's rhythm for any abnormalities and, if necessary, directs a rescuer to deliver an electrical shock to the victim. The shock may help a heart re-establish an effective rhythm of its own.

While the defibrillators can be life savers should someone go into sudden cardiac arrest, knowing if one is available or where it's located can mean the difference between life and death.

"Those things are out of sight, out of mind. In an excited moment, you can forget it's even there," Croley said. "If it is properly registered, though, that information goes into the 911 database. Then 911 dispatchers will be able to tell you there is an automatic defibrillator in the building, to go get it and to take it to the patient."

Dispatchers also are able to relay the defibrillator information to responding EMS crews, which then will be better prepared upon arrival, Croley said.

While registering an automatic defibrillator is a one-time requirement mandated by the state, EMS officials believe many remain unregistered throughout the county.

"People are just not aware of the reporting requirements," Croley said. "There are things that they need to do in order to have one."

Although it's the law to register an AED, Croley believes registering one serves an even more important purpose.

"Having it registered could save someone," Croley said. "They are the only way to significantly impact the survivability rate for sudden cardiac arrest."

To register an AED or to see the list of those already registered visit www.wcjcems.org.

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