The Williamsburg Community Health Foundation has recently given a $50,000 grant to York County to put Automatic External Defibrillators at the county’s parks to help save visitors’ lives during a cardiac event.
York County’s Public Access Defibrillation program aims to make sure AED’s are available in areas where residents may need them. In 2007, the WCHF gave the county a $32,000 grant, which they used along with an additional $10,000 from the Board of Supervisors to put AED’s in most county government buildings and in several county vehicles. Read a previous article about the program here.
AEDs are portable devices that can be used to deliver an electrical charge to someone suffering from a life-threatening cardiac emergency. Many of these park AEDs going in around the county will have a call button, so if a York County park visitor sees someone in cardiac arrest, they can be connected directly to 911 dispatchers.
“The 911 dispatcher will be able to unlock the cabinet so the AED device can be accessed while simultaneously dispatching emergency personnel to the scene,” says Casey Nance, the county’s Risk Manager. “The county’s 911 dispatchers are trained in providing CPR instructions to the caller if necessary.”
Since each of the county’s outdoor recreation facilities has a different layout, the funding will be used slightly differently depending on the location. At the new Sports Complex, New Quarter Park, Wolf Trap Park, and Riverwalk Landing, the AEDs will be mounted in a wall mount exterior cabinet. At Kiln Creek Park, a stand-alone pedestal cabinet will be used to make it more visible and accessible.
In addition, the county’s Parks and Recreation Division will carry a portable AED on its all-terrain vehicle for use at the Sports Complex. Other selected parks will receive upgrades or enhancements to their current service levels.
AED’s have been used on numerous occasions in the county to save lives. According to Thomas Schwalenberg, York County Battalion Chief and EMS Coordinator, during a six-week period last summer three people were saved thanks to these devices and the quick responses of York-Poquoson sheriff’s deputies. One of those saved was Circuit Court Judge Prentis Smiley, who was stricken on the bench and had no pulse or respiration before an off-duty paramedic and a deputy applied an AED and resuscitated him.