Suffolk to deploy defibrillators

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Red Cross just got big help saving lives in Suffolk.

The Red Cross’s Suffolk Chapter received a grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation to purchase 65 new automated emergency defibrillators for the city.

“They’re going to save lives in the city of Suffolk,” said Brenda Ramsey, American Red Cross Suffolk Chapter Lifeline757 coordinator.

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An AED is used when a person experiences sudden cardiac arrest, which is not the same as a heart attack. During sudden cardiac arrest, the heart’s electrical system stops working.

The AED helps to shock the heart to start the rhythm back.

“It can happen to anyone, any time, at any age,” Ramsey said.

The Lifeline757 committee has spent the past year sending out more than 470 surveys across the city to see where the machines are most needed.

“People responded to us, we did the scoring and selected locations based on the greatest need,” Ramsey said.

The committee found room for 65 new AEDs in locations throughout the city including Ebenezer United Methodist Church, Hillpoint Woods Apartments, Little Grove Baptist Church, Nansemond Swim Club, Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts, Triple-T Sports Center, Vitex Packaging Inc. and Wal-Mart Store No. 1687.

In addition, Suffolk Public Schools will get seven units, and the city of Suffolk will get 50. The units can cost from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the manufacturer and any accessories.

A ceremony was held Thursday at the Suffolk Red Cross office to finalize the contracts between the Red Cross and the businesses and organizations that will receive the devices.

Before the grant’s purchase of the new devices, Ramsey said, the city was limited mostly to devices owned by emergency services units.

The grant is for two years, and Ramsey hinted the committee would like to get even more devices for the city.

“We’re hoping this first go-round will open up the eyes of all our citizens and everyone that these are good machines to have on hand, because they do save lives,” she said.

While anyone can operate an AED because of the step-by-step instructions on the device, Ramsey said the Red Cross strongly encourages that someone operating the device has CPR training. She added that the latest CPR courses even include training on how to work an AED.