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April 18, 2011

Pa. responders given new AED machines thanks to grant

By Chris Foreman

GREENSBURG, Pa. — More than 90 police, fire and emergency agencies in Westmoreland County received new automated external defibrillators this week through a grant secured by Mutual Aid EMS of Greensburg.

Mutual Aid distributed the portable electronic AEDs on Thursday and Friday after receiving a $123,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to modernize equipment for the county's first responders.

The Westmoreland/Frick Hospital Foundation is covering the cost of a five-year support program for the devices.

An AED can check a person's heart rhythm and recognize a rhythm that requires a shock, according to the American Heart Association.

The devices are significant for first responders who are dealing with a person suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest.

"Time is the critical factor in saving lives and what you do in the first few minutes of an emergency can be the difference in saving someone's life," said Rodger Gennaro, medical compliance officer and grant coordinator for Mutual Aid.

One of the 93 recipients of the devices, the North Hempfield Volunteer Fire Department, already had to use its new AED yesterday morning to assist a patient, he said.

Department members completed a needs survey to help Mutual Aid determine the best placement of the more than 100 AEDs the grant covered.

Delmont police now have a third, enabling officers to have an AED in all of their cruisers.

Previously, AEDs were being shifted from car to car, Chief Tim Klobucar said.

"This was a big thing for us," he said. "We really appreciate the assistance to get this."

All eight of Unity's fire departments are required to have AEDs available, according to Scot Graham, Marguerite's chief.

"You're adding an AED to the department and in some cases, some of the older equipment you've got you're not going to get fixed," he said. "This is an absolute shot in the arm, for sure."

Copyright 2011 Tribune Review Publishing Company

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