Pearl River County groups receive AEDs

Published 8:01 pm Friday, February 9, 2007

Numerous agencies, organizations and schools have received life saving devices called Automated External Defibrillators.

The AEDs were ceremoniously given on Thursday to the receiving organizations through the efforts of the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, Robert Johnson Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The 28 AEDs were purchased in part with a $50,000 grant from the LPRVF and distributed to various Pearl River County organizations.

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AEDs help save lives by restarting a heart that has stopped due to ventricular fibrillation, which can happen suddenly to people who have shown no previous signs of heart disease, said Debra Smith, Poplarville schools’ healthy lifestyle coordinator.

In the last few years four employees in the Poplarville Special Municipal Separate School District died on the job due to sudden cardiac arrest, according to the grant proposal from the school district to the LPRVF.

“The Poplarville school district lost several employees on the job to heart disease over the past few years,” said Gylde Fitzpatrick in a press release. “By placing AEDs within our school system we hope to prevent these tragedies from happening in the future.”

Dr. Ted Alexander said that if the AEDs had been on campus at the time, then maybe two or three of those lives could have been saved. These devices also will be an asset at locations where seniors frequent, such as the Picayune Senior Center, Alexander said.

Initially the grant was to provide AEDs to the Poplarville school district but Smith said she thought they could benefit so many more people.

“Why should these be (localized) to the Poplarville School District, you know, let’s take care of the entire county while we’re at it,” she said.

While the AEDs will help to save lives, Smith said the first defense in the event of a heart attack is to conduct CPR, which is why it is critical for people to be trained in that lifesaving skill. The AEDs are meant to be a last resort, she said.

The AEDs were distributed to all schools in the Poplarville school district, Pearl River County School District and Picayune Municipal Separate School District. Emergency agencies such as the Picayune fire and police departments received two each. Pearl River Community College, Picayune Senior Center, Picayune Housing Authority and the LPRVF also received units for their use.

Before the devices were handed out, an instructional video was shown. The devices appeared to be easy to use since they utilize voice instructions to walk the user through the entire process, but training is recommended. In addition, after the device has served its purpose by administering an electrical shock, the same plug used for the electrical pads on the AED also can be used by certified emergency personnel professional equipment, making for a seamless transition.

The grant has provided the Picayune Fire Department the opportunity to place an AED at each of its three stations, said Chief Keith Brown. The Fire Department had an AED for one of their stations already and the two they received Thursday will provide one for each station.

“I would like to thank the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation and the Poplarville school district,” Brown said. “These units are very expensive. We were able to get them through this grant at a portion of the cost.”

The units cost about $2,000 a piece and through the grant each receiving organization paid only $314 per unit.