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July 19, 2016

Va. county implements publicly accessible AEDs

By Frances Hubbard
The Daily Press

MATHEWS COUNTY, Va. — More automated external defibrillators are publicly accessible thanks to the Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad's “Operation AED” program.

The program started in 2014 with the goal of increasing the number of defibrillators available throughout the county, both inside and outside locations, hoping the higher accessibility will save lives.

Earlier this year Haskins Bayside Collision Center in Port Haywood became the first location to house an outside device in a weather-proof storage box. Two more were placed at the Mathews Memorial Library on Main Street and at the Gwynn's Island Civic League building.

According to Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad member Ron Lambert, devices have now been placed at both Cobbs Creek and Hallieford post offices and at Fire Station 5 in the New Point area. Next week, Lambert said, they expect to place one near the sheriff’s office at the courts and county office complex on Buckley Hall Road. They are looking to place three more in the Moon, Bohannon and North areas of the county.

An AED, as the devices are known, analyzes the heart's rhythm and if necessary, delivers an electrical shock, which helps restart the heart.

The portable devices offer step-by-step instructions to guide its operator. The outside devices also sound an alarm when the protective box, which is not locked, is removed to alert people to an emergency and remind them to call 911 if they haven't already.

Defibrillators are located inside about 50 spots in Mathews, including schools, churches, civic organizations and businesses, as well as at several volunteer squad members' homes. A device has been credited with saving three people in Mathews in the past two years, according Lambert.

The squad has hosted several training sessions for church and civic groups and at the middle and high schools. Lambert hopes to have several public workshops for residents in the coming months.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2016 the Daily Press