Terry Rindfleisch: Making defibrillators available saves lives

COMMENTARY
2011-06-01T00:30:00Z Terry Rindfleisch: Making defibrillators available saves livesBy Terry Rindfleisch | trindfleisch@lacrossetribune.com La Crosse Tribune

Simply put, automated external defibrillators can save lives.

Yet in the La Crosse area, many public places, churches and schools don’t have a portable AED.

The Seven Rivers Chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association based in La Crosse has been promoting AED purchases among schools, businesses and community groups.

Dr. Cheri Olson, a Mayo Clinic Health System physician and the chapter’s president, said all La Crosse public schools and many churches have installed the devices, but more schools and businesses need to do it.

“All public places where large crowds congregate should have AEDs,” Olson said. “It can mean the difference between life and death.”

This week during CPR-AED Awareness Week, the Seven Rivers Chapter is trying to raise funds to buy more AEDs for La Crosse County Sheriff Department squad cars.

The group has raised money for nine AEDS for sheriff squad cars and would like to equip about 20 cars. It will have a fundraising event from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday in the north parking lot of the La Crosse County Law Enforcement Center, along north Fourth Street.

People can drop off donations and learn how to use an AED. A child photo identification station will be set up, and some gun locks will be given away, Olson said.

Many squad cars and first responders don’t have an AED, a small portable device that analyzes heart rhythms and advises the operator, through computerized voice instructions, when to push a button to deliver a potentially life-saving electric shock to the victim.

“AEDs are effective, easy to use, and you can’t hurt anyone,” Olson said. “Anyone can have sudden cardiac arrest anywhere, and AEDs are vital to saving lives.”

Olson, who survived sudden cardiac arrest in 2009 with the help of an AED, said a study showed defibrillator use before first responders arrive nearly doubles the odds of survival.

She said the Seven Rivers Chapter recently provided the Salvation Army with an AED. The parents and teachers group at Blessed Sacrament School in La Crosse funded an AED for the school.

The chapter encourages others to buy an AED, which costs about $1,200, but will provide training for businesses and groups.

It’s time for groups, foundations, business owners and individuals to provide the money for an AED. It’s time for an Eagle Scout candidate, or a school classroom, or employee groups to take on funding an AED as a project.

And those who have money, it’s time to give an AED to your church, first responders or a favorite organization.

You can make donations online at www.suddencardiacarrest.org and go to Seven Rivers Chapter by clicking on chapters and affiliates.

You also can send checks to the Seven Rivers Chapter, SCAA, c/o Cheri Olson, 815 S. 10th St., La Crosse, WI 54601.

Do it. Save a life.

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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