Jefferson County gets three portable defibrillators

Jefferson County now has three Automated External Defibrillators that County Judge Dutch King hopes will never have to be used.

“It’s better to be safe up front,” King said Friday afternoon after one of the three devices had been mounted to the wall at the County Courthouse. “If we didn’t have them and someone had a heart attack in the building, it would be too late.”

A 50/50 matching grant with Jefferson Regional Medical Center’s Heartsaver Program funded the three devices, with one going to the courthouse, a second to the Road Department and the third to Jefferson County Recycling.

An AED is a portable device that checks the heart’s rhythm and if needed, it can send an electrical shock to the heart to try and restore a normal rhythm, and using an AED on a person who is having a sudden cardiac attack can save that person’s’ life.

The devices are lightweight, battery-operated and portable, and electrodes (sticky pads with sensors) are attached to the chest of a person who is having a sudden cardiac arrest.

The electrodes send information about the heart’s rhythm to a computer in the AED, and the computer analyzes the rhythm to determine whether an electrical shock is needed. If it is, the AED will use voice prompts to tell the operator when to give the shock, and the electrodes will deliver it. Using an AED to shock the heart within minutes of the start of sudden cardiac arrest could restore a normal heart rhythm.

King said there are currently about 15 county employees, not including dispatchers at the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association who have received CPR and AED training, and the plan is to have everyone in the courthouse trained to use the machine. Additional training classes are set next week and the training is being offered free of charge.

Melinda Elliott, the operations manager for MECA, said all the employees there are currently certified in CPR/AED, and a certified instructor is a MECA employee. MECA also has an AED device in its office in the basement of the county courthouse.