March 9, 2009
University installs public heart defibrillators
There's some new first-aid equipment on campus that everyone can take to heart.
University Health and Safety Manager Scott Walk recently installed automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in three high-traffic campus facilities: the first floor of the Administration Building, the second floor of the J.W. Jones Student Union and the main lobby of Bearcat Arena.
An AED is a user-friendly life-saving device that makes an automatic diagnoses before delivering an electric shock to the heart of a person who has suffered the potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias known as ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.
Ventricular fibrillation is a condition in which there is uncoordinated contraction of the cardiac muscle of the ventricles in the heart, making them tremble rather than contract properly. If the arrhythmia continues for more than a few seconds, blood circulation ceases, and death can occur in a matter of minutes.
Ventricular tachycardia, or fast heart rhythm, is a potentially life-threatening arrhythmia because it may lead to ventricular fibrillation.
Walk plans to offer CPR courses this spring for those who want to learn how to use the machines, but said the devices are so simple they can be operated successfully by people with little or no training.
Each AED cabinet is clearly marked with a sign bearing a heart-and-lightning bolt logo and contains a poster with simple, large-print illustrated instructions. In addition, Walk said, the machines contain a speaker that broadcasts recorded spoken directions while the device is in use. Sensors in the machine keep it from functioning if the current-carrying paddles are placed in the wrong spot, or if a normal heartbeat is detected.
"This is a very simple device to operate," Walk said. "It verbally tells you what to do, and it will not shock someone whose heart is beating normally."
In addition to the Administration Building, the union and Bearcat Arena, the University has also installed an AED at the Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area, where people often engage in strenuous physical activity and which is about 10 miles from the nearest emergency medical facilities.
All Campus Safety vehicles are equipped with a defibrillator, and the machines have been available for some time in the Lamkin Activity Center's athletic training area, student recreation area and fitness center.
"This is technology we've had on campus for several years," Walk said. "The difference is we just haven't had public access until now. Obviously we've tried to place them in high-use areas where there is the greatest risk."
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468